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PRESENTED TO 

The State Historical Society of Wisconsin 
By Mary M. Adams 



I loved this book, and that is why 
I passed it on to you 

December, 1901 

Transferred to the 

LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN 




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THE 

METAPHYSICS OF 
BALZAC 

AS FOUND IN 

"The Magic Skin," "Louis Lambert," 

AND 

"Seraphita" 

BY 

URSULA N. GESTEFELD 



• ••••*«.• ' J, 3 

• • •• 



••- ••- "j 



NEW YORK 

THE GESTEFELD PUBLISHING CO. 

1898 



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JAN 2 1902 

Copyright, 1898, by 
URSULA N. GESTEFELD. 

All rights reserved 



TROW DIRECTORY 

PRINTINa AND BOOKIINDINe OOMPANV 

NCW YORK 



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PREFACE. 

AU existence is interpretation. As liying human 
"beings we are interpreters of our own nature through 
experience of its possibilities. Confronted first by its 
depths^ we are attracted to its heights through the 
drawing power of our ideals, a power that impels us 
upward, however strong the gravity of our sensuous 
nature. What is natural is succeeded by what is pos- 
sible. 

It is this order, necessity, and result that is por- 
trayed by Balzac in the books under consideration. 
Their language is the language of Humanity on its 
way out of the slough of Animality onward to Divin- 
ity — ^the crown of glory that is destiny accomplished. 
Read with the intellect, they will be valued as the 
work of a literary genius; read with the soul, they 
will be appreciated as the work of a seer. Nature, our 
relation to Nature, and the possibilities enfolded in 
this relation, possibilities that begin with her servant 
and end only with her master, are sketched by his 
hand according to the illumination in his soul that 
revealed them. What is written from illumination 
must needs be read in the same light, though it be 



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but a candle-beam in comparison with the brilliant 
intellect that we feed with the oil of ambition. 

"Hiese chapters were first written as aids to pupils 
who were seeking an understanding of life^ a head 
and heart apprehension that should lead in time to 
that comprehension that makes him, who knows, the 
master of fate. They may find a field wider than that 
first intended, inasmuch as every member of the hu- 
man family is attending the school wherein he is the 
student of his own nature and — ^at first unwittingly — 
the fulfiller of his own destiny. In the hope that they 
may help to stimulate desire and search for meanings 
as well as things, for values as well as objects, and 
transfer worship from the temporal to the more en- 
during, through the lifting up of our ideals, they are 
given to the larger class, after having fulfilled their 
mission for the smaller one for which they were first 
prepared. 

Ubsula K Gestepbld. 



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INTRODUCTION. 

HonarS de Balzac^ bom in 1799 and dying in 1858^ 
was one of the giants of French literature. Working 
for many years in poveriy and obscurity, he attained, 
finally, both fortune and renown. Bis was one of 
the few, perhaps too few, instances of appreciation of 
an author and his work while the worker is still in 
the world; the rule of '* stones for the living, palms 
for the de&d '* being more universally applicable. 

And yet, the critical student of 1898, the searcher, 
rather than the reader, is probably more appreciative 
of Balzac's work, than the average reader of 1832. 
Fiction without, philosophy within. Such is the nat- 
ure of his chief works, which, read merely as novels, 
fail to yield their strength. 

To-day the seeker for hidden treasure, the one who 
views the story, admirable though it may be, as the 
surface ore indicative of the richer deposit below, 
finds a mine of knowledge that richly repays the 
working; and that proves that Balzac had a steady 
controlling purpose of which he never lost sight; a 
purpose stated by the mouth of Louis Lambert, who 
is made to say, ^' I sought the deduction of a general 



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system. My thought has always been to determine 
the actual relations between man and God/' 

Like many others^ Balzac^ incapable of the intel- 
lectual dishonesty involved in the acceptation of re- 
ligious dogma as infallible truth, sought for a philo- 
sophical science instead. Endeavoring to follow the 
sequence of cause and effect, rather than the " tradi- 
tions of the elders/' he attempted this deduction of a 
general system which he has embodied in the three 
books under consideration. 

In studying and analysing them we find the bold- 
ness and vigor, the positive individuality of one who 
is bent upon finding and knowing the truth for him- 
self; and who, consequently, so far from failing in 
reverence for the good and the true, is so inspired with 
reverence as to be free from superstitious fear and to 
be filled with the divine intoxication afforded by 
Truth's unveiled face. He not only portrays human 
nature in all its phases, good and bad alike, but he 
shows why it is as it is; and he leads the reader through 
all these temporary phases to that grand culmination 
which is eternal, and necessitated by man's enduring 
relation to God. 

Dying as he did at the height of his fame and reali- 
zation of his dearest wishes — ^for wealth had sup- 
planted his poverty, he had married the woman of his 
choice and gained the beautiful home which was his 
cherished ideal when he lived in his garret — ^it might 
seem that this fate was unjust, did we not feel that it 



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was not the termination of his career, but only the 
point where it took on a higher phase. For true it is 
that a man^s works live after him, that the perpetuity 
of the message, rather than of the messenger, keeps 
him more truly living when he is dead. The vitality 
of Balzac's books — ^as of all enduring works — ^is the 
invisible soul that uttered itself in the visible words 
penned by the material hand. When the soul of the 
reader responds to the soul of the writer, he ^' being 
dead, yet speaketh.'^ 



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THE MAGIC SKIN. 



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THE MAGIC SKIN. 

Among Balzac^s works these books, ^^The Magic 
Skin" ^^ Louis Lambert," and " Seraphita," consti- 
tute a triad in which is found the definite and striking 
continuity illustrative of his philosophical science or 
" general system." In George Frederick Parsons^s in- 
troduction to the first work, he thus defines Balzac's 
intention: "He proposed to analyse society as the 
great philosophical anatomist had analysed the zoo- 
logical kingdom, and to explain the diflEerence be- 
tween classes of men and women demonstrating the 
influence of environment in modifying a conmion hu- 
manity. ... He did not regard himself as a writer 
of romances, but as a social historian. . . . After 
having accumulated the material for a real history of 
society in the nineteenth century, ' Ought I not,' he 
says of himself, ' to study the reasons or the reason of 
these social effects, and, if possible, surprise the hid- 
den meaning in this immense assemblage of figures, 
passions, and events? Finally after having sought, I 
do not say found, this social motor, is it not necessary 
to mediate the principles of nature, and ascertain in 
what society departs from, or approaches to, the eter- 
nal law of Truth and Beauty? ' " 

13 



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14 

Balzac planned a great work as the " Com6die Hn- 
maine/^ which was to be romance without and philos- 
ophy within, and whose spirit, therefore, was to far 
transcend its letter. Where the lesser was to entertain 
and be forgotten, possibly, with the interest which 
gathered it up and passed beyond it, the greater was to 
penetrate to and lay hold upon those deeper emotions 
which make us pause in the rush and whirl of exist- 
ence to ask, " Why? Whence? Whither?" 

Mr. Parsons says of him further, ^* Having accom- 
plished this great labor," which we gather ^^was to 
show society its own image, as exactly and completely 
as possible, neither extenuating anything nor setting 
down aught in malice," ^^ he intended to crown his 
work by a series of philosophical and analytical 
studies which should lead up to the establishment of 
certain principles tending to facilitate the evolution 
of a higher civilization. He did not live to accom- 
plish this division of his enterprise, but the 'Phi- 
losophical Studies,' of which ' The Magic Skin ' forms 
the first, embody the main conceptions which were to 
have been developed in the ' uncompleted series.' " 

Here we have agreement with the conclusion in- 
evitably reached by the careful student of this triad, 
that these three stories — ^if we call them such — ^are but 
the means Balzac has employed oi illustrating the 
nature of the genus, Man, and the order of its develop- 
ment — of the production of its species. For the evo- 
lution of a higher civilization must be in accordance 



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with fundamental principles which demand recogni- 
tion and co-operation. 

Balzac was not a pessimist; he believed in human 
progress. He says^ ^^ Man is neither good nor bad. He 
is formed with instincts and aptitudes. Self-interest 
develops evil tendencies in him.*' 

Balzac was a mystic, though his mysticism would, 
in his day, have remained undetected by the average 
reader of this triad, with the exception possibly of 
** Seraphita,** which is a reason, perhaps, why his 
works are attracting now more general interest and 
analytical thought. The close of the nineteenth cen- 
tury witnesses a growing attraction in mysticism, as 
if an illuminating wave from the unknown had flowed 
in upon and impregnated sleeping souls with its 
subtle fire. 

As a seer, possessing spiritual insight and intuition, 
Balzac saw and knew the three-fold man, the eternal 
triad, and the equally three-fold order of his develop- 
ment. The interlaced triangles are the geometrical 
figure which illustrates the inner meaning — ^the vi- 
tality — of these books. The conformity is perfect and 
is proof of his recognition of an eternal necessity — 
that the evolution of a higher civilization must be in 
accordance with the fixed principles of man's being; 
and that the greatest service the seer and the thinker 
can render mankind is to present these principles and 
this necessity in such form as is adaptable to its pres- 
ent status in that evolution, even while that form 



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must necessarily cover nmch that awaits a higher de- 
velopment. 

His clearness of vision and power of analysis are 
masteriy. He draws with a firm, strong hand the large 
lines that present the eternal pattern, while he lacks 
none of the suggestiveness that suppKes the delicate 
shadings necessary for completeness. He depicts no 
less vividly the limitations of the species, portraying 
the details involved in the pattern or genns and the 
relatively between them so forcibly as to make his 
characters and incidents well-nigh objective facts to 
onrselves. 

The three books under consideration illustrate the 
natural order of the development of the soul, or the 
self, of Primal Man, according to the law of being. 
In " The Magic Skin " we have the lower human soul 
which includes the animal soul; in ^^ Louis Lambert,** 
the higher human which is becoming detached from 
the lower; and in " Seraphita," the divine soul whose 
home is above the things of sense to which it is al- 
most a stranger. This division or qualification of the 
soul according to the genus, these three souls in one 
soul, does not originate with Balzac, but is discerned 
and followed by him, not as an outcome of his philos- 
ophy, but as the fixed point from and according to 
which that philosophy is evolved. Nowhere is the 
keen insight which makes him a seer more clearly 
shown; and with this discovery one is prepared for 
the intuition which finds and hands down to others 



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17 

knowledge of what, to them, are " hidden mysteries **; 
a work always devolving upon the few who in their 
own day are misunderstood and unappreciated by the 
many. 

Some hold upon these fixed principles is necessary 
for the reader if he would find and follow to its log- 
ical consequence Balzac^s philosophy. They are the 
most definitely stated in "Louis Lambert/' and in 
the concise, clear-cut form which appeals to the stu- 
dent who can see and understand, though appearing 
probably arbitrary, involved, and elusive to the su- 
perficial reader, who may well believe them to be what 
the story itself makes them — only utterances of in- 
sanity. 

Balzac saw that Animality, Humanity, and Divin- 
ity were enfolded in the genus, Man; and that they 
were xmf olded or evolved as soul or self-consciousness. 
He saw the present of the human race, but he also 
saw the past and present potentialities which are to 
make the higher future. From the heights of seer- 
ship he viewed its slow but steady progress out of and 
away from captivity to its own animal propensities, 
traced its sometimes circling but always forward 
march toward its highest attainment — ^Divinity. He 
saw the struggles of an infant humanity to resist the 
attraction of the lower nature and yield to that of the 
higher; the distortions of the human soul resulting 
from nou^pccess; the death of the power to enjoy 
through unlimited opportunity for enjoyment, when 



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enjoyment concerned the sensuous and intellectual 
natures only; the ever-increasing capacity when it 
was the unfolding of the divine in the soul. All this 
he has outlined in these three books; and, as in a 
mirror, the student sees himself, dissected and ana- 
lysed. Eecognizing the individual as the epitome of 
the whole, the world itself, with its light and shade, 
its sores, scars, and saviors, lies bare before him. 

In Eaphael de Valentine^ the leading character in 
^^ The Magic Skin,^^ we have that embodiment of the 
animal soul and strong intellectuality which give the 
lesser human soul that is capable of rising to and 
revelling in the intellectual world, or of sinking to 
and wallowing in the sensual world, and with equal 
facility. The tendency to excess is part of his nature, 
and the sharp contrasts of his life portray the vibra- 
tions of the soul between this above and that below. 
The bondage of superstition — ^which is sure for this 
grade of soul, however the intellect may scoff at it — 
is illustrated by the talisman and EaphaeFs subjec- 
tion to its power. Throughout the book is traced the 
inevitableness of cause and effect, the stem inflexi- 
bility of that great teacher, experience. 

Viewing the panorama as it unrolls before us, we 
look into the depths of our own souls, detect hitherto 
unrecognized impulses and motives for action, desires 
and efforts to realize them, which we shrink from ac- 
knowledging even to ourselves, unworthy ambitions 
which the same teacher has flung back to us while 



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we have shed the tears of disappointment and pain — 
unmerited, as we have believed. 

The artificiality of our boasted civilization, as re- 
vealed in that veneered and venerated sham, Society; 
the impossibility, owing to its false basis, of infusing 
it with a living and real quality, is portrayed so realis- 
tically as to rouse our pity for those worshippers who 
cover its corpse-like impassiveness with the garlands 
of devotion and fidelity. All these notes are struck 
with reiterated persistency throughout the book, and 
all the chords of which they are capable sound in our 
ears, their major and minor tones awaking haunting 
echoes within us. 

The necessity of equilibrium, of self -poise, through 
recognition and grasp of our own resources; the just 
balance of one resource, with its possibilities, against 
another; the rounded and even development of our 
natures by conformity to their great and eternal plan, 
is illustrated by the consequences of excess in any one 
direction — ^the sometime violent reaction which trans- 
fers the excess to some other plane. 

As the story opens, Raphael is found as a young 
man of twenty-five in whose face " darkness and light, 
annihilation and existence, struggled together.*' The 
key to his present and future conditions is found in 
the story of his life up to that age, as he tells it later 
on to a friend. 

Leaving school at the age of seventeen, he lives a 
life of severe discipline, to which he is subjected by 



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his father, and which gives him no opportunity for 
the exercise of his individuality. All expression of 
emotion is cheeked and driven back by his father's 
austerity. The consequence was a certain " Kbertin- 
ism of the mind/^ a storing up in the within of de- 
sires, and of their imaginary gratification, which was 
sure at some time to rush forth as a torrent if the op- 
portunity for realization was not dominated by a 
steady controlling purpose. At his father's death he 
is left with but a meagre sum, to face his future alone. 
His father's rigor has destroyed his self-confidence, 
and he feels helpless even while inward revelations 
and promptings make him believe himself destined 
to do great things. 

Longing for love, alone and lonely, he forms the 
resolution to reduce his existence to its actual needs, 
and by this means make the little money he has serve 
him three years, during which he would study, and 
write and produce a work which should compel the 
recognition of his genius. 

Here Balzac has sketched with a masterly hand the 
life lived in the world of ideas as contrasted with life 
in the world of the senses; as also the intensified im- 
agination of the vigorous but repressed sensuous nat- 
ure that is aided by unusual intellectuality. 
I While Kving outwardly the life of the ascetic, as he 
writes his *' Theory of the Will,'' Eaphael inwardly, 
or in imagination, is revelling in all the delights of 
the man of the world, developing at the same time an 



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intense egotism and unconscious selfishness. Kote 
the suggestiveness of his utterance as he says, " What 
becomes of virtue during such excursions when 
thought overleaps all barriers? '' 

During his life in the garret he meets a young man 
who endeavors to make him see that modesty in a 
man of genius is a mistake. And here is one of Bal- 
zac^s most faithful pictures — ^faithful to that lifeless 
actuality. Society, which is so far below that living 
glowing reality, the Ideal. " Push, and society will 
make room for you; brag, and it will believe you; 
make debts, and other people will pay them. Kiiow 
the secret springs of society and work them to your 
own profit. If you have talent, make your success 
personal for yourself; it is the surest way. Please 
those who can trumpet you along. You can yourself 
make the fortune of your theory by thoroughly un- 
derstanding the theory of fortune.*' 

We need not study Balzac to see and know that this 
" theory of fortune " is well understood in our own 
day, not by men alone, but by women as well. For 
the business, political, and social worlds are closely 
allied beneath the surface, however wide the apparent 
divisions; and the first requisite for success in either, 
according to a tacitly accepted, though disguised, 
standard, is "push"; a quality possessed in fullest 
measure by those who can intentionally, and for per- 
sonal ends, cultivate selfishness. 

The business man pushes his competitor to the 



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wall and etrides past him without mercy. The poli- 
tician knocks down and steps upon his opponent if 
he can mount by means of him. To say that " lovely 
woman/^ in her efforts for social recognition and su- 
premacy, uses the same methods, would be to call 
forth a storm of protest, perhaps. A man's fist is a 
brutal weapon, yet its wounds axe but surface bruises 
to the deep thrusts so quickly and cleverly inflicted 
by the woman who wages war on all that stands be- 
tween her and her family's success, and whose battle- 
field is Society. Selfishness is her armor — ^must nec- 
essarily be the armor behind which she gives and takes 
blows whose sting is not soon forgotten. Some time 
her armor becomes so battered it is more vidnerable: 
and in sorrow and bitter tears she will learn that the 
prize for which she has fought is but Dead Sea fruit — 
but a will-o'-the-wisp which has lured her on till her 
feet are fast in the bog of loneliness, disappointment, 
and sorrow. 

Falling in love, in his poverty, with a rich and beau- 
tiful woman who suffers him as long as he does not 
annoy her, and who scorns him when that time comes, 
Eaphael is loved in turn by a young girl, nearly as 
poor as himself, whose devotion he unappreciatively 
accepts, blinded by his infatuation for the other. In 
despair, his last coin lost at the gaming-table, he is 
resolved to commit suicide by drowning. While wait- 
ing for darkness to conceal the deed, he wanders into 
an antiquary's shop. 



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23 

Here Balzac draws a wonderful picture. As we 
read it seems as if every country in the world was rep- 
resented to us by means of the objects that crowd 
the rooms; as if all the far-reaching tributaries of this 
planet had poured their wealth into one receptacle, 
thus condensing its nature in a great object-lesson 
illustrative of the whole. 

Is it too much to assume that the author has here 
furnished an illustration of the possibilities of human 
life waiting the touch of the divine fire of the higher 
soul that shall infuse them with a new vitality, and 
bring forth order, or harmonious relativity, from the 
picturesque but chaotic confusion? — that touch 
which enables us to look through the confusion, as 
well as look upon it, and penetrate to that central 
thread upon which are strung the beads of exist- 
ence? 

Hear him as he says, " This ocean of inventions, 
fashions, handicrafts, results, and ruins, were to the 
stranger a poem without an end. Forms, colors, 
thoughts were resurrected, but nothing complete was 
offered to the soul. It devolved upon the poet to 
finish the sketch of the great painter who had pre- 
pared this vast palette, where all the accidents of hu- 
man life were flung in profusion, and as if disdain- 
fully.^^ 

As we follow Raphaels subsequent life, it seems as 
if we are finding and following the plan of the " great 
painter,'^ and reducing the ** disdainful profusion " to 



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law and order, bringmg that divine completeness 
which encompasses the human incompleteness. 

In this shop, as part of the antiqnary^s possessions, 
is found " The Magic Skin *' that bears an impression 
of what the Orientals have called " Solomon's Seal,'' 
and which is possessed of occult properties. It will en- 
able its possessor to gratify every wish, but at the cost 
of his life, for with each gratification the skin will 
shrink and his days lessen. Protesting his freedom 
from superstition, Eaphael accepts the talisman, and 
his first wish, made as he grasped it in his hand, is 
gratified the same evening, almost within the hour. 

In the scene of its fulfilment — ^the dinner at Taille- 
fer's, the animal soul, in all its naked naturalness, is 
laid bare before us; and we see, without surprise, the 
gravitation of that quality in Eaphael toward its kind. 
That "like attracts like" is an ever operative law, 
is shown not only here, but throughout the three 
books. 

In this incident we see the excess resulting from 
unrestraint, the appetites and impulses, which we pos- 
sess in common with the animal creation, active ac- 
cording to their nature, the man dethroned, the beast 
enthroned, the higher intellectual characteristics lost 
sight of altogether, or degraded to its service. That 
the animalism which is refined, therefore more inten- 
sified, by intellectuality, is more deadly and soul-de- 
stroying than its coarser and lower grade, is shown by 
the contrast between Eaphael and the host of the 



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evening. Taillefer is the natural animal, pure and 
simple. The other is the cultivated specimen capable 
of creating a future hell the natural one could not 
feel. 

One side of the triangle, one part of the threefold 
nature, is revealed in this scene, and Balzac^s descrip- 
tion confirms the revelation. ^* Claude Vignon was 
dancing like a bear to a fife. Intimate friends were 
fighting. The likeness to animals that came out on 
those human faces . • . appeared vaguely in their 
gestures and in the movements of their bodies. They 
were an open book if only some Bichat, cool, sober, 
fasting, had been there to read it.'' 

Is it true that we have within our own, as a lesser 
within a greater, that nature which, though natural, 
is gross in its tendencies? Then it is equally true that 
it is to be ruled and made subservient to that which 
is more than it. " First, the natural; afterward, the 
spiritual.'' 

How magnificently has Balzac portrayed the natu- 
ralness of excessi How subtly has he indicated the 
way of its masteryl *'The whole scene," he says, 
^^ was at once a lesson and a picture. Philosophies, 
religions, moralities of every latitude, governments, 
indeed all the great acts of hxmian intelligence, fell 
under a scythe as sweeping as that of time; and an 
observer might have found himself puzzled to decide 
whether it were handled by drunken wisdom or by 
Drunkenness grown wise and clear-sighted. Carried 



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26 

away by a sort of whirlwind, these excited minds, like 
angry waves rushing at a cliff, sought to shake the 
laws that float civilizations, unconsciously doing the 
will of God, who has left good and evil within the 
bounds of nature, keeping for Himself alone the se- 
cret of their perpetual warfare/' 

Are not the laws that float civilization continually 
assailed by the oncoming tide of that progress which 
is the further development of man's fundamental nat- 
ure? Are they not shaken when the practical stand- 
ard of morality is a matter of latitude rather than of 
principle? Does not this very necessity represent the 
time-old battle and problem, "What are good and 
evil, and why are they in continual warfare? '' Is it 
not a problem to be solved and a battle to be fought 
by every human soul? And is it not all contained 
within the bounds of nature? 

Balzac discerns and represents a truth needed as a 
revelation by those who seek to gain the answer and 
win the victory — ^that primary good and evil is a 
question of Nature and not of ethics. It is a question 
of what is wise or unwise, a basis, which makes ethics 
a subsequent possibility. The old mystery, the origin 
of evil, is no longer mysterious when the human soul 
is seen in its relation to both Nature and its own in- 
herent possibility. This dual relation is seen by Bal- 
zac, is illustrated by his characters and embodied in 
his work. He lifts from the soul ethical responsibil- 
ity at the stage of its evolution where its relation to 



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nature is the dominating phase of existence, and 
where this responsibility has been mistakenly placed 
by a dogmatic theology. He sees and affirms logical 
consequence in place of voluntary disobedience to an 
arbitrary command; a consequence natural to the 
whole human race, that renders theological excuses 
unnecessary and makes enlightenment on the nature 
of the human soul the remedy for all evil. 

What is nature and what is man's place in and re- 
lation to it? is also his quest — ^a necessary corollary to 
the endeavor to determine the actual relations be- 
tween man and God. He aims to show the true nat- 
ure, place, and value of ethics as a factor in human 
progress, in contradistinction to that warped view 
which has not reckoned sufficiently with nature, and 
therefore fails to rise to apprehension of man's true 
relation to God; and he presents an atonement for 
evil which is volimtary instead of compulsory and is 
equally a fact in nature. To him the great battle be- 
tween good and evil is fought outside of man only 
as it is fought in him; and, as what is wise and what 
is unwise, it is a question of what holds him back 
from spiritual possibilities, and what helps him for- 
ward in the ultimating of those possibilities whose 
tjrpe is ^^ Seraphita.'^ 

The two women prominent in the banquet scene 
illustrate forcibly the grade of soul for which this 
banquet is an enjoyment and pleasure. One, as " the 
soul of vice,'^ Aquilina, illustrates that intensity of 



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28 

passion that is mistaken for love^ that smites even 
while it offers a caress; and which is misdirected en- 
ergy operating with greater force and destructiveness 
in the animal capable of intellection, than in his four- 
footed brother; but which can be transmuted through 
spiritual alchemy into a saving and ennobling power 
which redeems and blesses where it hias formerly de- 
stroyed. In the " scale of being '^ its color is red — 
Aquilina wears a red robe — ^the color of the lower 
man, the earthy Adam who is to become the heavenly 
Christ. 

The other woman is the embodiment of that utter 
selfishness which has never a thought but for self- 
enjoyment; that cold, bloodless gratification unre- 
deemed by an atom of feeling for others; that an- 
nihilation of all that gives incentive to higher en- 
deavor, which is " vice without a soul.'* 

The course of both is downward according to nat- 
ural gravitation, downward to that death for which 
there is no resurrection for Bmile; for resurrection is 
of the heart, and she has absolutely none. She is the 
same type as Fedora, but below the plane of respecta- 
bility, on which Fedora moves serenely, and appear- 
ing as vicious selfishness in contrast to the coldly cal- 
culating, outwardly respectable heartlessness whose 
embodiment is Society. 

Man seeing himself in woman, or what woman is to 
^•^n on the differing planes of soul, is shown by Bal- 
itv aP ^^^ women characters of these three books. 

\ 



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As notes in the scale of being, one after the other, 
from Emile to Seraphita, gives forth its tone as it is 
struck by the author's all-compelling touch. The ' 
utter darkness, the twilight, and the glorious illumi- 
nation of the soul succeed each other till the grand 
chord of assured and eternal victory over the sensuous 
nature is sounded. Awed and enraptured, we listen 
to it with Seraphita as it swells around and above us, 
rising higher and higher to those celestial realms 
where we cannot yet follow, but from whence comes 
to us the far-oflf echo which we cherish in our heart 
of hearts. 

If the Fedora in this book is an illustration of So- 
ciety — ^and it would seem as if Mr. Parsons is correct 
in his view — ^what a marvellous satire upon the cold 
unappreciativeness of that marble goddess for the 
pulsating, burning soul, that, though bare of the me- 
dium of exchange which is the current coin of her 
world — ^money — strives to come into it and infuse it 
with even a little of its own thrilling life! The ring 
of the current coin of the inner world, ideas, with the 
noble emotions they engender, falls upon ears deaf 
in the main, which respond only when a new attrac- 
tion can increase her own glory. 

Society forswears thinking for sensation. '' She re- 
mained silent,^' says Eaphael, " when I told her that 
ideas were organized and perfected beings living in a 
world invisible.^^ 

His " Theory of the Will,'' which he had evolved 



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30 

in the seclusion of his garret, that product of his own 
early manhood offered up as a sacrifice to be coined 
into ideas, " amused her,^^ and brought him great re- 
ward — "an invitation to visit her again; permission 
to continue his visits ^^ till he tired her, and was 
dismissed as incapable of rousing in her any new sen- 
sation. 

Eemembering EaphaePs intoxication- of imagina- 
tion in his garret, we see that he then created sub- 
jectively, by his thoughts, what he afterward act- 
ualized with his experience. That this connection 
between our precedent thinking and our subsequent 
experience is a fact, Balzac^s metaphysics, equally 
with those of our own day, teach. He saw Thought as 
the Creative Energy which was directed by the Will, 
and recognized the consequences both of its trained 
and wise use, and of its ignorant abuse. He saw it as 
both destructive and constructive, and both conse- 
quences are graphically portrayed in these three books. 

It is no wonder they were not understood in the 
day in which they were written. The wave of deeper 
insight which is moving forward at the close of the 
nineteenth century, enables many to see that to which 
they also would have been blind even ten years ago; 
for the power of trained and directed thinking as an 
avenue for the operation of the Universal Thought 
Energy, is being demonstrated more and more. The 
claim that it can be thus employed for the betterment 
of all conditions has passed the stage of superficial 



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criticism and ridicule, and is commanding respectful 
attention. 

In Eaphael is illustrated two kinds of excess, both 
fatal to the nonnal and rounded growth of the soul — 
the excess of sensualism and the excess of intellect- 
ualism, which inevitably must produce an all-absorb- 
ing, instead of an all-giving personality. His ego- 
tistical selfishness is colossal. He seeks to draw all 
to himself and give nothing. Even the work to which 
he so long devotes himself is to be given to the world, 
not that the world may be helped thereby, he content, 
if need be, to remain imknown, but that it shall re- 
dound to his own glory and compel recognition of its 
author at his own valuation — ^which is the animal in- 
stinct of gratification and appropriation appearing on 
the intellectual plane. 

Here is illustrated another form of selfishness — 
that of pure intellectualism; the thinking which is 
solely from the head, into which the heart does not 
enter. It is research and knowledge for the enjoy- 
ment of their pursuit and possession. It ossifies the 
heart and produces the egotist who will give of his 
store only at the price of fame for himself. 

Through Patdine, the tender unselfishness of the 
truly loving woman, the give all and exact nothing, 
that is possible only when self is forgotten, is thrown 
into bold relief by contrast with Fedora and her im- 
passiveness on the one hand, and Baphael and his 
egotism on the other. As in the great plan of the 



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32 

divine Architect, these shadows but compel us to see 
that which can alone survive as the fittest in this 
struggle with our lesser selves which we call existence. 
The blessedness of giving for its own sake is beauti- 
fully portrayed, as well as the patience that can wait, 
however long, for recognition. The lawful little de- 
ceptions by which Pauline enables her loved one to 
accept assistance without sacrifice to his pride, the 
never-ceasing watchfulness which not only enables 
her to give, but also provides the means by which 
she gives, touch the heart with a profound emotion, 
as if a veil had been lifted, affording a glimpse of 
holy virgin motherhood. 

This idea, the virginity of motherhood, foreign per- 
haps to the artificial sentiment of modem society^ is 
carried through the triad. We see it in the faithful 
devotion and protection given to Louis Lambert, in 
the firm yet tender guidance of Seraphita. It is a 
revelation of the Divine, that with the patience of 
infinity waits for fruitage. The woman who loves 
/ with the higher love will inevitably be mother as well 
t as wife to him she loves. The wifely office includes 
1 the other. Her husband is her child, to be brought up 
/ and out into the divine likeness; a result which can 
I never be reached by the masculine nature without the 
J help of the feminine. She is the necessary ^^help- 
i meef for the growing soul, for as she is oversha3- 
1 owed by the divine, even so does she overshadow her 
■ mate, who is to be reborn through her virginity. 



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33 

^ r 

It is the woman nature, whether it be found with 
male or female physical form, that is capable of self- 
less love and an unswerving fidelity to divine ideals. 
This it is to be like God. Therefore is she the ever- 
virgin mother of whom regenerate man is to be bom. 
Therefore do the temporal suflEerings of her wifehood 
constitute the birth-pangs of her motherhood; and^. ^ 
/ though her husband be a Cain, as her child he may^ ^ 
/ become a Saviour. ^^ 

t-i^ In this sharp contrast afforded by Fedora and Paul- 
ine, light and darkness, warmth and cold strive the 
one with the other. A word of wonderful suggestive- 
ness is spoken by Eaphael as he tells his story to his 
friend and companion at the banquet. " Women *\ 
--^without souls have nothing mellow in their gestures.^^^J 
Do we not see at once the artificiality of the society 
devotee which chills, nay, freezes, the spontaneous 
naturalness of the soul, and congeals all true senti- 
ment? — ^an artificiality that is accepted, even de- 
manded, in place of sincerity, by the requirements of 
"good society ^^? 

Balzac has but emphasized what we with a clear 
vision may see — ^the frozen soul of the woman who 
makes society the object of her devotion. Nothing 
that is perfectly sincere and natural can be left to her. 
Her very love for her husband and children will be 
touched with the same frost and become inseparable 
from expediency. Every thought of them will be 
tinctured with the social ambition that will color and 



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34 

distort the sweetest relationships, and too often make 
victims of those whose right it is to be cherished. 

The social highway is lined with altars whose 
smoke of sacrifice never goes out, and the slain offer- 
ings are thickly strewn upon the road pressed by the 
feet of those who march over them in their eagerness 
to serve the goddess of selfishness. 

Excess wears many faces. This disposition of the 
lesser human soul consequent upon the animal in- 
stincts within it, prevails also upon the intellectual 
plane until the higher ^uman begins to develop and 
.establish equilibrium. "^Selfishness and the intellect-^ 
]ual egotist are found together. His love, his passion^ 
ate, intense love, is invariably a love for self — ^f or him- 
self in the loved one. Witness Eaphael's remark at ^ 
the conclusion of his story: " Let a yoxmg man meet 
with a woman who does not love him, or a woman who 
loves him too well, and his life is forever spoiled.^^ ^^ 

How forcibly does Balzac show the proneness of 
the xmdeveloped soul to believe its experiences unde- 
served misfortune; to look upon what others have 
or have not done as the cause of all its sufiferings, the 
destroyer of its possibilities! But the higher soul, in 
its womanly aspect, as Pauline, looks quietly upo^ 
what it cannot hinder, and waits — ever waits while 
ever ready. 

" Pauline stood there as my living conscience,^* says 
Raphael, as he takes leave of the humble home made 
radiant by her unselfish love. 



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35 

His possession of the talisman which gives him 
the power of gratifying every desire, also takes from 
him the power of enjoyment. Do we not see here 
that "the wages of sin is death ^^? that the lower 
sonl must die that the higher soul may be resurrected? 
Each gratification costs him so many years of life — 
that life of the senses by which he sets so much store. 
That inexorable principle, "the survival of the fit- 
test/^ holds the soul in its grasp and will not let it 
go except the soul blesses and accepts the stem guard- 
ian of human life. »* 

" He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap 
corruption.^' And the reaping of Eaphael, from which 
his " Theory of the Will '^ cannot save him, because 
it is an intellectual emotion only, follows closely and . ^ 
surely upon his sowing. A part of it is his inability j '^ 
/ to do a kind and generous deed to another. Even 
^ his wish for the prosperity of his old teacher, without 
one act of helpfulness in his behalf, robs him of some 
of the little life remaining to him as he sits in his 
luxurious home, a living corpse. 

See, also, how forcibly is shown the fact that re- 
pression of desire through fear of the consequence is 
'l^ot the conquering of desire that gestates the higher 
soul. In the description of Eaphael at this point, note 
the reference to the look in his eyes. "It was the 
deep and all-embracing glance of a powerless man 
driving his desires back into the depths of his soul,'' 
says Balzac. And again: "It was the look of a con- 



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36 

queror, and yet the look of a lost soul/^ Eaphael was 
conqueror in so far as he was able to repress, no far- 
ther. That soul which does not rule, transmute, and 
lift up the sense-desires, is lost and cannot survive as 
the fittest. 

Neither is that soul conqueror that simply turns 
from the pleasures of the senses to the pleasure of 
gathering knowledge for himself alone, for this is 
self-enjoyment still, and still it is the ruling motive. 
Here the old antiquary is illustration. He forswore 
the delights of youth, only to turn to them when his 
age mocked at him and his treasures of knowledge 
lost their charm. Some time the balance must be 
struck, the soul must settle accounts with itself. The 
point of equilibrium, of self-poise, in the continuity 
of self-consciousness must be reached. 

But it is not attained while love includes the animal 
desire of possession. When Eaphael first meets Paul- 
ine after their long separation, and only his higher 
sentiments are roused by the meeting, the talisman 
does not shrink because of them. When he wishes to 
be loved by Pauline because the higher and nobler 
nature forms the wish, his days are not lessened. But 
when his baser feelings, his desire to possess her, be- 
come active at a subsequent meeting, his wish is fatal 
and his own death-warrant stares him in the face. 

Here we see what motive has to do with result. 
When the motive is pure, the result — ^though con- 
taining an element of suffering when ignorantly 



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37 

reached — shall "be counted unto us for righteous- 
ness/' Persistence of right motive, however lacking 
we may be in present knowledge, brings us continu- 
ally and surely nearer to that self -dominion and self- 
less love which is God's kingdom come. Our days are 
increased instead of lessened, for we are ascending to 
the unlimited and eternal instead of descending to 
the limited and temporal. 

EaphaeFs attempt to be rid of the talisman, and 
refusal to believe longer in its power to shorten his 
promised happiness, its finding its way back to him 
after he has thrown it into the well, and his subse- 
quent efforts to destroy it, illustrate the impossibility 
of breaking asunder that great law. Cause and Effect; 
as also the blindness of the lesser soul which does not 
see that co-operation with this law is the defeat of 
what that soul calls fate. Do what he would, he cpuld 
not rid himself of it, for he strove to put it away from 
him instead of growing away from it, instead of be- 
coming the quality of soul over which it could have 
no power. 

God's law is the law of cause and effect. "As a 
man soweth, so shall he reap." From the seed sown 
by the soul it must gather its harvest. This law is 
omnipotent or overruling; and because it can be de- 
pended upon absolutely, we govern the result as ab- 
solutely — ^not the reaping, but what the reaping shall 
be to us; whether we gather the harvest as its master 
who saves the wheat and destroys the tares, or 



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38 



whether we reap it as the servant, toiling, hungry, 
weary, and snfifering in the heat of the day, unable to 
distinguish the one from the other. The soul must 
and will fulfil its destiny, but it may conquer fate. 
The naturalness of sufifering, the continuation of suf- 
fering till its cause is destroyed, is perceived and por- 
trayed by Balzac, who teaches that nothing less than 
transformation in soul can bring it to an end; that 
the soul must either master, or be mastered. 

The various scientists who by their own methods 
attempt the skin's destruction, an attempt that in- 
variably fails of result, the skin remaining unchanged, 
illustrate the limitations of what is called scientific 
knowledge when it is applied to eternal things and 
. self -operative principles. Much as it may accomplish 
when applied to the objects of sense, to objective facts, 
it can never seize and accommodate to itself deeper 
subjective truths. And it is a subjective truth that 
this talisman represents. 

EaphaePs experience in search of restored health 
and prolonged life, show the futility of seeking for 
them where they are not to be found. His search was 
always in the external; and wherever he went he car- 
ried with him the disease, its cause, and — ^if he had 
but known it — ^the remedy. Witness the declaration 
of the three physicians who consult together as to 
EaphaeFs case. "Has not a man a soul, a body, a 
mind? One or the other of those three first causes 
acts more or less powerfully within us; there will al- 



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39 



ways be a man behind all scientific convictions. Be- 
lieve me, Eaphael, we cannot cure; we can only aid 
a cnre/^ 

How forcibly does Balzac teach that the well- 
springs of both good and evil are within ourselves. 
Is it not indeed necessary " to mediate the principles 
of nature and ascertain in what we depart from or ap- 
proach to the eternal law of truth and beauty? *' 

In the natural man, the lower human soul, dwells 
the instinct to turn to the things of sense for help— 
for relief from suffering. He follows it, at first, as 
naturally and unconsciously as do the four-footed 
creatures around him. He lives in externals only. 
But there is also in him a divine potency which de- 
velops slowly, till it is a voice directing him to the 
higher. When he hears it first, not understanding 
either messenger or message, he fears, and buries him- 
self yet deeper in externals. But his hours of suffer- 
ing increase, and little by little he turns to the within 
to listen. It tells him that he has ignorantly departed 
from " the eternal law of truth and beauty.'^ He has 
followed his natural instinct instead of his higher fac- 
ulties and nature, that bide their time to serve him. 
If he listens long enough, without intellectual ego- 
tism, and with patience and humility, this inner teach- 
er will ^' mediate ^' for him ^^ those principles of nat- 
ure '' according to which he must work and solve the 
problems of his own existence. As he heeds and fol- 
lows its teachings, he finds and prizes those princi- 



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40 

pies which put that existence in tune with the great 
key-note that has sounded in the silence ever since 
time began; a harmony which makes great souls, the \ 
saviors of men, mediators of the " Most High/^ ^ J 

Again, the true inwardness of that hollow mockery, 
Society, is emphasized by EaphaeFs intuitive reading 
of the natures around him at th-e baths — ^the environ- 
ment which is the mirror reflecting his own soul. The 
really superior soul, impelled by the necessities of its 
own individuality, lives independently of society, and 
does society an unforgivable wrong by " escaping be- 
yond the jurisdiction of its mediocrity/^ This soul is 
inevitably left to the "isolation that belongs to 
power/' 

How like a flash of lightning illuminating hitherto 
dark places are EaphaeFs self -communings as he jour- 
neys to another health resort after having fought the 
duell They are the revelations of experience. How 
clearly is seen, some time, the necessity of self-knowl- 
edge 1 How strong the conviction, when arrayed be- 
fore the tribunal of our own souls/ that power exalts \ 
none but the exalted! i "" — -♦ \ 

His search for health is in vain. The enemy from 
whose grasp he has been trying to escape — ^his visage 
has been ever before him since the first fatal wish — 
closes its strong hand more firmly. Realizing the im- 
possibility of escape, he returns to Paris — ^to his home, 
to find that his deserted wife has borne, her lot with 
patient, uncomplaining fidelity, asking only — ^and 



\ 

3 



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41 

only by letter, for he will not see her lest he shorten 
the little life remaining to him — ^that she may suffer 
with him instead of alone, anything, everything, so 
that this solace be hers. 

Determined to be only a vegetable that he may 
guard the flickering flame of life even a few days 
longer, he refuses her request only to waken in the 
night and flnd her at his bedside. She learns for the 
flrst time the secret of his life and why he had for- 
saken her. Eealizing on the instant that to remain 
with him is to destroy him, nay, more, that even to 
live as the object of his desire is enough, she tries to 
take her life, her devotion supreme to the end. 

True to the type, Balzac makes Eaphael try to stop 
her that he may still possess her, still find gratification 
for the animal instinct which, long suppressed, not 
transmuted, slays him in the endeavor j but not before 
he has bitten her very flesh as the last expiring effort 
of the beast of prey. 

With his death the first line of the second triangle 
is completed. But already we may se^, through Paul- 
ine, the bend in the onward direction, which will give 
us the second line. Ascension is the divine order. 

Like Goethe, Balzac teaches, " It is the divine wom-\ 
anly that ever draws us on.'^ He found the hidden . 
meaning he sought and divined its ultimation. 



•4 



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LOUIS LAMBERT. 



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LOUIS LAMBERT. 

This second book of the triad seems at first sight 
to be entirely different from ^^ The Magic Skin ^^; and 
the reader who is not awake to the metaphysical mean- 
ing of the three, and who reads for entertainment 
only, will be likely to lay down the book unfinished. 
He will miss the excitement, the passion, the breath- 
less rush of experiences portrayed in the other, and 
feel it tame in comparison. Its philosophical aspect 
will not attract him, and cmiosity about Louis's sad 
fate will be the strongest interest aroused. For such 
a reader the tendency to " skip '^ will be irresistible. 

For the student, however, who is tracing the un- 
folding of Balzac's purpose, who is finding and fol- 
lowing the second line of the lower triangle, it is of 
interest to note that Balzac makes the Bible — ^which 
has had the same effect upon other and great lives — 
the determining influence upon Louis Lambert's ca- 
reer, coming to his hands when he is a very young 
child. He portrays him as of a reflective, meditative 
temperament, a boy of abnormal intellect and natural 
inclination to mysticism, who absorbs ideas through 
reading, for which he has an inveterate passion. The 
character of Louis as sketched further gives us the 

45 



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46 

curious impression of one who is of extreme age while 

yet a boy, this mixture of age with youth preparing 

us unawares for the future utterances of the man that 

wait for later generations to be imderstood. 

He possesses the power, nay, rather, he is conscious 

^ of possessing the power, to produce within himself 

I and for himself that which is, or, as he expresses it, 

/ " the events of nature reproduce themselves in purer 

\ forms than those under which they first appeared to 

I my exterior senses/* He was one, says Balzac, " who 

\ carried all his action into thought as others put all 

I their being into action/* 

. Bom of poor parents and attracting the attention 
^ of Mme. de Stael by a chance meeting and conversa- 
tion, he is placed by her in college, that she might 
save him from the army and the Church and give him 
to the great future which she foresaw was before him 
because of his remarkable endowments. Their fame 
preceded his arrival and gave him a special standing 
with his fellow-pupils, one not altogether desirable, 
as circumstances proved, when his repeated fits of ab- 
straction drew from his teacher the oft-repeated repri- 
mand, ** You are doing nothing, Lambert,** and en- 
tailed upon him as a punishment so much copying of 
lines as to leave him no time for recreation. 

Our attention, as we read the vivid description of 
life in the college, is drawn specially to a characteris- 
tic of Louis* which would serve as a key to his nature 
even if it were not so fully outlined by the author. 



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47 

The power of his eye, unconsciously exerted, and 
bringing upon him the more degrading punishment 
of the ferule when directed toward his teacher be- 
cause of the — ^to Louis — ^undeserved reprimand, re- 
veals the nature of the soul represented by the char- 
acter and its place in the three-fold being, Man. 

One who has observed the diflference in the eyes of 
those whom one meets cannot fail to be struck with 
it, even if a reflective mood does not seek to account 
for it. Beyond all color and form is a certain some- 
thing, elusive, if its description is attempted, but most 
positive and assertive in its effect upon the beholder — 
a something which in some eyes seems to be locked in 
slumber, in others, just on the point of awakening, 
and in others, again, wide awake; a something which 
looks directly at you; not at your features, form, or 
clothing, but at you, and gives the impression that 
it sees you clearly, do what you will to hide yourself. 
The penetrative power seems to pierce through any 
and every mask, and one and all are self-confessed as 
futile. It compels nakedness and dissolves disguise. 
It demands, and the beholder is almost irresistibly 
drawn to comply. And it demands without demand- 
ing — demands by virtue of what it is rather than by 
intention, a demand that compels obedience in greater 
measure. 

Is it the living soul, looking out from the earthly 
tabernacle it uses for a time? — ^the living, vital, thing 
— ^yet no thing — ^that forever eludes the searcher of 



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48 

the tabernacle, and from that remoteness whieli is 
infinite nearness looks unmoved upon all efforts to 
lay hold upon and bind it? Is it the seat of that 
power driving the machinery of the human body 
which, on its other side, is belted to the Supreme? 
Does it know that it is not of dust, and does this 
innate wisdom kindle and renew the light which 
shines in the human eye, tiny spark in measurement, 
yet immeasurable in power? 

As we had with Eaphael the lower human soul 
which includes the animal soul that is exalted above 
its natural level by the addition of intellectuality, we 
have in Louis Lambert the higher human which in- 
tellectuality lifts up from the animal, transforming 
it, absorbing its life or essence into the higher life, 
and casting away the grosser parts as soul growth 
pushes onward. This idea, already assuming new 
prominence in the present day, is accentuated by Bal- 
zac in this story, and withal so subtly, yet so cleverly, 
as perhaps to escape the notice of the aforementioned 
reader, who is not looking for the metaphysics within 
and above the story. The bend in the line of con- 
tinuity illustrating the soul, that directs it toward 
the divine, and therefore away from the animal, giv- 
ing in the second triangle the line parallel to the base 
of the first, is that quality of soul illustrated by Balzac 
in Louis Lambert, whose higher intellectuality begins 
to be illumined by the radiance of the divine toward 
which it is traveUing. 



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49 

The monotonous, and, for the boy, unnatural rou- 
tine and discipline of the college but drove him into 
this inner radiance, the more alluring that it was his 
comfort and compensation for the ills of the outward 
life. We are in a measure prepared for his subse- 
quent fate as we see the conspiracy of his environ- 
ment to accentuate his natural tendency to the sub- 
jective rather than the objective life. In the words 
of Balzac, "perhaps this inward life helped him to 
foreknow the mysteries in which he had so much 
faith.^^ 

The inevitable consequence for this grade of soul, ^' 
unappreciation of its quality, thoughts, and possibil- 
ities—except for the one or two who, having the \ 
torch of their own understanding already lighted 
from the same divine fire, are able to see its light — 
adds the pathetic element to Lambert's character and 
experience. Despised by his masters and ridiculed by 
his school-mates, he, with his one sympathetic friend, ; 
lived a life apart from them and in a world made 
real by the power of his soul, a world the others could 
not enter. He could not be taken by either teachers \ 
or school-mates at his own instinctive valuation: he I 

would not be taken at theirs. \ 

The turning of the soul inward, away from impres- 
sions through the senses to impressions from ideas, 
is illustrated by Louis Lambert's school life. It is 
the turning-point in the souFs evolution when it is 
the result of conscious intent. It is a preparer of the 
way higher, when it is the pushing of experience. 



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50 

" He was," says Balzac, " a soul enslaved." So was 
Eaphael de Valentine, we say. How, then, is Louis 
an advance upon the other? Eaphael was the willing 
slave of desire; Louis, the soul longing for freedom. 
** Where gifts are equal," says the author, " the feel- 
ings based upon the simpler and truer desires, truer 
because purer, must surpass the lamentations of gen- 
ius." 

^* Happily for me," says Louis, " there come joyful 
moments when the walls of the class-room disappear 
and I am away — ^in the meadows. What delight to 
float upon thought as a bird upon its wing! " 

At this point also belongs the use of thought in- 
stead of being used by it. Eaphael was enslaved by' 
his thought, Louis was liberated by his; and he was 
freed sufficiently from the bondage of his environ- 
ment to find and trace toward their source the eternal 
things which stand immovable in all the confusion 
and destruction of sense actualities. -^^ 

How forcibly is illustrated in his school-life the 
limitations of artificial standards and methods of ed- 
ucation, that curb and confine the natural intuition 
that would reveal far more than can ever be learned 
from books; the false value placed upon books, and 
upon memorizing their contents 1 

We see at this stage of Louis' career the creative 
power of thought and the susceptibility of the soul 
to the ideas formed by thinking, together with their 
possible expression in the body. "If," says Louis, 



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** I think strongly on the sensation the blade of my 
penknife wonld cause if thrust in my flesh, I instantly 
experience a sharp pain as though I had really cut 
myself; nothing is lacking but the flow of blood. An 
idea causing physical suffering! What do you think 
of that? ^^ he remarks to his friend. 

More sympathy for such an idea was manifested by 
Louis^ schootfriend than is expressed by many to-day 
when the suggestion is offered them. " The idea that 
thinking governs sensation! How preposterous! " \ 

It may well appear so to those who hear the sug- | 
gestion for the first time, although at the moment 
they make the ejaculation they are experiencing and 
expressing the sensation roused by the thought. 
There is an unthinking thinking which, though it is 
responsible for what we feel, is an unrecognized fac- 
tor in our experience, and which will continue to im- 
part to our experience an unpleasant and undesirable 
quality, till it is recognized and understood as a factor 
to be reckoned with; till it is mastered and displaced 
by a conscious and consciously directed thinking, 
that, impelled by a higher love, gives the soul mas- 
tery of all evil and attendant suffering. 

Such a character as this boy must be so extrava- 
gant as to be almost inconceivable, were we not able 
to distinguish the quality of soul veiled by the child- 
ish frame. " The child, the giant," says Balzac, as he 
puts in the mouth of Louis^ companion the following 
words: ''We tried to decipher within ourselves the 



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indescribable phenomena relating to the generation 
of thought, which Lambert hoped to catch in all its 
developments, so as to reveal the mysterious process 
at some future day. After such discussions, mingled 
as they often were with childish play, a look would 
flame in Lambert^s blazing eyes, . . . and from 
his soul some saying issued by which he strove to 
gather and emit the thoughts within him/^ 

We cannot help but see that though the fleshly 
/ Louis was but fifteen years old, the soul Louis was 
one coming from a long pilgrimage — coming, through 
knowledge, in the direction of wisdom. 

The power of clairvoyance as natural to the soul is 
illustrated by his visit to the manor of Kochambeau 
on a school excursion and recognizing all the details 
of the scene, though he had never been there before. 
He had seen them in a dream, from which circum- 
stance he proceeded to deduce systematic conclusions, 
using a fragment on which to construct a whole crea- 
tion. 

He had evidence of what was virtually a separation 
between the body and the inward being. If they 
could be apart during sleep, why could he not divorce 
them when awake? If he saw without seeing, and 
heard without hearing, and crossed space while ab- 
solutely motionless, he must have internal faculties 
which were independent of external physical law. 
'*Is there not a dawning science in that phenome- 
non? '* he asks. 



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// Yes, truly, it points in the direction of a possible 
/science of all sciences, the Science of Being. The con- 
tinuity of meaning in this triad of books is along an 
ascending scale. All the characters have place in that 
orderly relativity to each other compelled by the nat- 
ure of governing principles. The situations in which 
they are involved are the appropriate frame which 
makes prominent both their virtues and their defects, 
which are their approaches to, or departures from, 
these principles. Their fidelity to type is masterly; 
and however depressing the exterior of both person 
and place, the gleams and glints of that spirituality 
which, silently, and often unrecognized, develops 
within the veil, shines through, cheering and 
strengthening us as we read. 

Louis* written *^ Treatise on the Will,*' which met 
the disastrous fate ever awaiting God-derived genius 
at the hands of ignorance, was his attempt at formu- 
lating this science. " In it,*' says Balzac, " Lambert 
laid down his ideas on man.** To teach that the study 
of mankind is man; that to know one*s self is the 
highest wisdom, is the aim of this author, who is 
here in accord with all great teachers, ancient and 
modem. 

Eaphael*s " Treatise on the Will ** would be a gi- 
gantic intellectual effort, but the thought of worldly 
fame and glory for himself, attendant on his work, 
would prevent the inspiration coming only from the 
higher soul. This element is supplied with Louis 



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Lambert The boy of fifteen is beyond the yigorous 
sensnons manhood of the other. The soul, older, 
grown^ or more developed, is gravitating toward its 
own divinity instead of sinking to the level of its 
mortal propensities. 

If we may suppose Balzac's views to be expressed 
in this treatise, he gave to Will, approximately, the 
meaning a class of thinkers to-day attach to Mind; 
and to Thought, the same relativity to Will that these 
give to Mind. Thus with him Will and Thought 
were the two generating agents and Volition and Idea 
the two products. But as we examine further, we 
miss a clear line of demarcation between thought and 
thinking, between the thing in itseU or a power, and 
the volitional use of the power; between the abstract 
and the concrete. Yet many of his conclusions bear 
a striking resemblance to those evolved by these 
thinkers from the premise, " Mind and Thought are 
the beginning of all things.'^ 

" The acting or interior being,'' he says, ^^ that un- 
named, seeing, acting, producing being who accom- 
plishes all without corporal demonstration, must, in 
order to conform to his own nature* be subjected to 
none of the physical conditions by which the reacting 
or exterior being, the visible man, is checked in his 
manifestations." 

" Heaven," he continues, " must be the survival of 
our perfected faculties, and hell the nothingness into 
* The italios are the author's. 



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55 

which our unperfected faculties return; ^^ or, condi- 
tion constitutes locality; a truth so mighty and yet so 
simple as to be seldom seen. 

And again: " Mesmer's discovery, so important and 
so illy understood, even at the present day, would have 
been found entire in Lambert^s treatise, though Louis 
knew nothing of the works of the celebrated Swiss 
doctor. A logical and simple deduction of the prin- 
ciples he had observed showed him that Will could, 
ty a movement set going by the inward being* ac- 
cumulate itself, and by another movement be im- 
pelled outward, and even be imparted to material ob- 
jects. Thus a man's whole force had potency to react 
upon others, and to infuse into them an essence for- 
eign to their own, if they did not defend themselves 
from the aggression.^' 

Under the name of hypnotism some psychical phe- 
nomena are to-day observed and studied instead of 
ridiculed without examination, a result compelled by 
that progress which leaves behind the one who first 
stood forth in their defence. And hypnotism as a 
remedial agent is receiving attention at the hands of 
those trained to scientific observation and research, to 
such extent as to rouse desire for the exclusive right 
to its therapeutic application; and this on the ground 
that in the hands of an ignorant or designing person 
the results would be most disastrous to the subject of 
the experiment. Time has seemed to prove, if this 
•Ibid. 



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56 

claim is warranted by evidence, the truth of Balzac's 
words; but has it not also brought a knowledge, fore- 
seen by him, as a needed ally — ^knowledge of how to 
defend one's self from such aggressions? 

The general interest in psychological and meta- 
physical questions and problems which is everywhere 
observable to-day, is in marked contrast to the gen- 
eral apathy of even twenty-fiv^e years ago; and it has 
become concrete in various factions and schools whose 
members are distinguished by their adherence to and 
confidence in mental, in preference to physical re- 
sources. In spite of the fanaticism which confronts 
the imprejudiced observer of their methods, and amid 
all the vagaries attendant upon zeal without wisdom, 
there is found a residuum of evidence tending to 
prove a truth in the philosophy, and a practical value 
to its application; a value to be greatly enhanced 
when more experience shall have modified the fanat- 
icism and dissipated the vagaries, bringing to the 
front the foundation principles that show mental 
means and resources to be the legitimate successor 
to physical means and resources. 

In that large class of adherents to a mental thera- 
peutic agent which numbers to-day many thousands, 
there are those who consider they have proved, again 
and again, that a volitional movement can be set go- 
ing by their inward being which will accumulate it- 
self, and which can be impelled outward to the chang- 
ing of bodily conditions for themselves and for others; 



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67 

that they can learn, and that others can learn, to 
concentrate and direct an inner force which has po- 
tency to lessen and even to remove the ills which 
afflict a common humanity. The evidence of to-day 
woxdd seem to prove Balzac prophet and seer, as well 
as philosopher; yet, much as is seen in his declara- 
tions by the mouth of Louis Lambert, we miss that 
clear, deductive sequence necessary for a scientific, as 
well as metaphysical statement, for thought is spoken 
/ of here and there aa material force, while his illustra- 
) tion makes it emphatically a soid force. Yet we are 
even awed as we contemplate iKese eflEorts of the soul 
to comprehend the infinite, and we become, in a meas- 
ure, prepared for the friction between the seen and 
the unseen, the known and the unknown, which later 
produces with Louis such excess of emotions. 

As Balzac states it, " Lambert^s work bore marks 
of the struggle that went on in his glorious soul be- 
tween the great principles of Spiritualism and Mate- 
rialism, round which the noblest minds have hovered 
without daring to blend them into one. Purely spirit- 
ualistic at first, he waa irresistibly led to recognize the 
materialism of thought. ... He had not yet the 
ability to produce a compact, homogeneous system, 
run at one casting. Yet, however incomplete his 
work, it waa surely the rough draft of a science of 
which, later, he would have fathomed the mysteries, 
settled the foundations, searched out, deduced, and 
connected the developments.^^ 



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When we remember that "Louis Lambert'* was 
written in 1832, may we not say that in the subse- 
quent years this science that he approached has been 
bom in the world, and its firstfniits are on every 
hand? May it not be possible to produce to-day the 
" compact, homogeneous system, run at one casting *^? 
None of the by-gone centuries has ofiEered a greater 
tribute of wisdom to a blinded and suffering world 
than the present. The metaphysics, not of Balzac 
alone, but of the many metaphysicians who have stood 
in the breach between Spiritualism and Materialism, 
have place in the homogeneous system of the present 
day, according as they " approach to or depart from 
eternal principles/^ 

Louis' struggle between the extremes of one truth 
has been shared by them all; by the seeker for that 
which is veiled by visible matter; seekers for the 
forces which operate within it and the laws which 
govern their action; seekers for the great Initial Im- 
pulse which communicates the "breath of life" to 
suns and systems and souls. Their efforts have been 
the steps of ascent by which a grand system has been 
reached; and every past struggle in this direction, 
every present effort to see and verify the truth it of- 
fers, is part of that travail which slowly, yet steadily, 
forces a whole world from the womb of darkness to 
the living light. 

The Bible, which influenced Louis' early years, 
grew more and more a revelation of the very truths 



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69 

his soul was struggling to find. " No book/^ he said, 
^^ was ever written whose germ does not lie there; ^' 
a statement which cannot fail of confirmation with 
one who has studied, candidly, the book itself, rather 
than accepted those traditions concerning it that have 
arisen in ignorance and been fostered by fear. 

To one who has shared this experience of Lam- 
beri;'s, who has longed with a longing unutterable for 
' a knowledge of truth, pure and unadulterated, and 
has found withiii the symbology of this mystical Book 
what he sought, this declaration of Balzac^s has a par- 
ticxQarly grateful significance. And he longs for the 
time when the present superstitious adherence to its 
historical letter shall be regarded as the real heresy, 
and what is now so denominated shall be seen as a new 
vitality forcing its way into the d^d continuance of 
a dead past and compelling resurrection. / 

The one who sees the true nature and value of the ) | 

Bible will agree with Balzac that the germ of eternal ^ \ 
changeless truth which gives direction, power, and \ j 
life to every book surviving the day that called it j 

forth, is in it; and if he were compelled to choose j 

between the two— the destruction of all our modem [ 

libraries and that of the Bible — ^he would let go these | 

much valued collections of mixed facts and theories, \ 

retaining rather that embodiment of fixed principles \ 

that constitute our Scriptures. — ; 

For he knows that the substance of each and all ** 

their books could be reproduced from this one; that 



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60 

the real substance of all forthcoming books^ even to 
those belonging specially to the scientific worlds lies 
buried there — ^behind the backs of those faithful plod- 
ders who peer persistently, year after year, through 
the spectacles of ocular demonstration for that which 
necessarily is, before it can be demonstrated. And 
he wonders, with a never-ceasing wonder, why the 
modem authority should be one who never sees or 
reveals a truth till it has overtaken him; while the 
one who goes to meet it on its way, and can speak 
from a face-to-face acquaintance, is only the vision- 
ary dreamer whose words can have no weight. 

The Bible is the book which is addressed to the 
sold, not to the intellect alone. It requires, there- 
fore, something more than intellect to read and un- 
derstand it, as it required more than intellect to write 
it. The highest recognition of truth is spontaneous 
rather than educated. It is the soul's involuntary 
testimony to the reality of the eternal. It constitutes 
the seer; and when the truly educative — ^which is the 
permanently redemptive — ^work of the world is finally 
summed up, it will be found that the work of the seer 
overbalances that of the intellectual man of science; 
for the foreseeing and foreknowing are preventive. 
The after-seeing and after-knowing that come from 
objective or exterior evidence, but slowly and pain- 
fully remove what has been ignorantly allowed to ac- 
cumulate. 
*^ The Bible is a store-house of soul-knowledge. It 



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must therefore wait its time for true recognition, 
which can come only through the higher develop- 
ment of the individual, precedent upon that of the 
race. Only the awakened soid can really read the 
book. 

The letter is dark and obscure. Our inward light 
must pierce it, meeting and mingling with the light 
it hides. In itself it is truly " a lamp to the feet "; 
but the soul that would walk " in the way ^^ must have 
its own taper lit from the same great flame. 

And this taper is within us all. It is the " true 
light" that "lighteth every man that cometh into 
the world." It is the radiance of the higher sold that 
has been growing slowly within the husk of the outer 
consciousness; for we live ourselves into the eternal 
Substance of all things. 

" Louis' early years," says Balzac, *' grew more and 
more a revelation of the very truths his soul was 
struggling to find." 

The Bible awaits this interior recognition which 
always precedes the permanent outward discovery. 
Prom the ranks of its true students shall grow a race 
of seers who dwell on serene heights far above the 
latitude of speculation, whose vision is not obscured 
by the mist and dust of materialistic scientific theory, 
whose ears are not deafened by the noise of intellect- 
ual strife, whose hearts are not frozen by knowledge 
without feeling, or maddened by feeling without wis- 
dom. As princes of '' the house of David," they shall 



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/ become the world^B saviors, drawing the sons and 
daughters of men to their divine inheritance. 

What a striking contrast — and a truthful one, if 
we trace the continuity of the soul — ^is presented by 
Louis and Eaphael in the motive impelling their 
work. "Even before leaving college/^ says Balzac, 
" Louis no longer felt a spur to fame; he had in a 
certain way abstractly experienced it, and after hav- 
ing examined it found nothing in it. Despising a 
sentiment so wholly personal, he said, " Fame is dei- 
fied egoism.** 

Baphael, living solitary in his garret, working in- 
cessantly at his intellectual labor, was consoled for 
his present deprivation by the thought of what his 
fame should some time be and the admiring recogni- 
tion he should receive. 
/ For the eyes that can read them, the signs that 
i distinguish a gren^ from a purely intellectual soul 
/ are not lacking. ^Fhe great soul is one that can re- 
nounce fame, fortune, the gratification of the senses^ 
even what is called love and the life ft sweetens — 
I renounce, and live and work as if it had them all, 
\ using every power, developing every faculty, that it 
\ may do good for Good's sake, that it may love for 
1 Love's sake, finding blessedness in its own blessing. 
\ The higher human soul portrayed by Louis Lambert 
I is the approach to this great soul, as the lesser hiraian 
portrayed by Raphael is the descent from it in the 
[ opposite direction. 



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EaphaeFs self-denial was really self-indulgence. 
Outwardly he lived in a garret on a few sous a day. 
Inwardly he indulged to excess in all of which he was 
outwardly deprived, stimulated by the worldly suc- 
cess which he already enjoyed by anticipation. His 
desired fame was of the kind prompted by his vanity 
and egotism, fitly accompanied by that " libertinism 
of the mind^* that was the inward death afterward 
actualized in his career. All the kingdoms of the 
world were shown him ^^ in a moment of time ^^ as he 
sat in his comfortless garret, and he bought "the 
glory of them ^^ at the price demanded. 

Louis Lambert's lonely life of three years in Paris 
after leaving college, is an illustration of the " isola- 
tion of power.'' He was strong enough to lift his 
intellectual nature above the plane of self -gratifica- 
tion, compelling it to serve him in his efforts to put 
into form the revelations of his sold. This strength 
compels isolation, in that it prevents conformity to 
cut-and-dried theories and unseeing and unquestion- 
ing acceptance of self -declared authority, substituting 
instead unswerving allegiance to the inner wisdom. 

It is a strength that withstands while it upbuilds — 
withstands the temptations to intellectual intoxica- 
tion and aggression, while it steadily incorporates the 
ideal belonging to a higher level till this ideal be- 
comes " the living Word.^' It is a strength that is 
more than physical, more than mental; a power that 
is not of this world — ^not of the shadow but of the 



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substance. It is soul-energy, a force which, some time, 
carries all before it, even though it seem to pause for a 
while to gather new momentum. Eventually it makes \^ 
its possessor the master of fate. 

At this point in the development of the soul is 
found the bridge between two worlds — ^Religion and 
Science, or, positive abstract truth, and comparative 
demonstrated truth. It* is their union, approached 
only by that soul whose type is Louis Lambert, and 
consummated in Seraphita, which gives the superla- 
tive or celestial truth, the full-orbed sun whose rays 
are too dazzling to be borne by the purely intellectual 
soul that is blinded by them. 

Though this bridge is pressed by many — ^it is to 
be pressed by multitudes of feet — ^it is always crossed! 
alone; for this is part of the isolation that belongs 
to the power to tread it. For the soul, at this stage 
of its development, there is the reconciliation between 
seeming opposites that brings completeness and wis- 
dom; and, so far from seeking for authority, it begins 
to speak with it. 

Louis spends three years of ceaseless study and ef- 
fort in Paris, after leaving college at eighteen years 
of age. Having thus exhausted his small patrimony, 
he returns to his uncle, who is now his sole guardian, 
and with whom he meets the woman who afterward 
possesses his life. To such a nature love was intensely 
idealistic. For him there could be nothing less than 
an absolute self -surrender to the one he loved. 



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If, in reading them, we can penetrate but a little 
way into their atmosphere, Louis* letters to his be- 
loved are so tender and beautifid, so all-giving and 
so little compelling, so full of that awe which accom- 
panies a great gladness bom of purity of soul and 
life, that we feel as if , a little way beyond, there stood 
a radiant presence; and we stoop, involuntarily, to 
remove the shoes of a lesser passion, feeling that here, 
and here only, is holy ground. 

That the true marriage is that of souls, not bod- 
ies, though the attraction of soul-quality— is that 
mating by the divine right which is " from before the 
foundation of the world**; is that freedom of love 
that is the very reverse of the license of the senses — 
is grandly told in the devotion of Pauline to Louis 
after he has become insane. And here is again em- 
phasized that higher nature and office of woman that 
( must inevitably wait for recognition, till, through 
Vv both sudBEering and revelation, the collective sold of 
/the world has been lifted to the plane of opened 
Sdsion:- 

First, the love of the senses; then, the love of the 
soul. First, woman as the inspirer of pleasure; then, 
the inspirer of divine realities. 

First, the woman for time; then, the woman for 
eternity. 

First, the servant; then, the seer. 

The divine motherhood is the accompaniment of 
wifehood, which is incomplete without it. Not only 



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as her duty, but as her great privilege, Pauline de- 
votes her life to the care of her lover-husband. To 
her he is not insane; he was only living in another 
and higher world, free and untrammelled, while his 
body still tarried below. Sitting at her embroidery 
frame in the darkened room, in sold she was with 
him, yet leaving him free to roam as he would, ascend 
beyond her, even, and find her again on return, the 
faithful watcher, companion, and friend. 

It has been said that Balzac made Louis Lambert's 
insanity a shield for his views, which were too far 
in advance of his time to be presented other than as 
the utterances of one who would not be held respon- 
sible for them. While this may be true, may it not 
also be possible that this insanity is in line with the 
order of development Balzac portrays in the three 
books? 

See what a vivid description he gives us in Louis' 
flights of imagination as portrayed by his letters, of 
the union of the sexes above what is ordinarily called 
marriage. As the soul ascends, marriage must ascend. 
The social marriage will die its own deserved death, 
and great wealth upon one side and poverty on the 
other will be no bar when like soids attract each other. 
On that plane the "social catch'' will be the pariah, 
and purity of life, mind, and heart the only patent 
of nobility. 

Balzac suggests, in speaking of Louis' great facul- 
ties, " might not love have raised them to some other 



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mode of expression, which, perhaps, we calumniate 
as madness without comprehending its true qual- 
ity? ^^ 

May not Louis* insanity and his rare utterances in 
that state suggest possibility of the soul's indepen- 
dence of the body, which is only its means of expres- 
sion on this plane; — ^the soul's life of its own, so 
above and beyond the material that it filters down 
through but infrequently; — ^the completeness of soul 
existence and the nothingness of material environ- 
ment which is for the body only; — ^the real nature of 
death as but a birth into a higher self-consciousness, 
with consequent tmconsciousness of the mere mech- 
anism still acting automatically? 

So far from portraying a case of ordinary insanity 
or madness, the author has presented one of pro- 
longed ecstasy — ^the lifting of the soid to the plane 
of direct contemplation where it has no need for 
reasoning or for speech. It is a case of *' absent from 
the body to be present with the Lord/' The body 
belongs to the outer darkness; the sold to the light 
behind the veil. 

It will be remembered that he becomes insane on 
the night before his wedding-day; and that his be- 
trothed, who is an heiress, feeling herself as much 
his wife as if the marriage ceremony had taken place, 
removes him to her home and cares for him as con- 
stantly as a mother for her helpless child. He never 
leaves a darkened room, where she is his constant and 



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devoted attendant. He speaks but rarely. At inter- 
vals she writes and preserves his fragmentary utter- 
ances — ^fragmentary to the superficial reader, but 
which to the student who holds the clue, show, as they 
do to her, a relation to each other hinging upon a 
thread of meaning which holds them together. 

" To other men he must appear insane,^' she says; 
^^to me, who live in his thought^ all his ideas are 
lucid.'' 

Here is our clue. Live in Louis Lambert's thought, 
and we shall find the meaning of those fragments 
which embody Balzac's philosophy as he has outlined 
it in these tWe books. The ideas they present will 
become lucid. 

" Here below," he says, " all is the product of an 
ethereal substance, the common base of the several 
phenomena known tmder the name of Electricity, 
Heat, Light, Magnetic Fltiid, etc. The universality 
of the transmutations of this Substance constitutes 
what is commonly called matter." 

"By constant nutrition Will is related to Sub- 
stance, finding it in all transmutations when pene- 
trated by thought." 

'' From the greater or lesser perfection of the hu- 
man apparatus come the innumerable forms which 
thought assumes." 

The Science of Being postulates one Substance 
back of all phenomena, eternally subsistent, which is 
ceaselessly operative as Thought, and which is mani- 



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69 

f ested through the various forms resultant from hu- 
man energy. 

"If space exists/^ he says, "certain faculties be- 
stow the power of traversing it with such rapidity that 
their effects are equivalent to its abolition. From 
thy couch to the frontiers of the world there are but 
two steps — ^Will and Faith.^* 

Here is a recognition of the higher soul faculties 
which outstrip in action those merely intellectual, 
and bring us as one " bom out of season/^ to the eter- 
nal " Now *^ that rules over time. 

And here we have the grand perception — so absurd 
for those who require explanation — "Facts are 
naught; they do not exist. Ideas alone subsist.^^ 

He divides the world of ideas into three spheres — 
that of Instinct, of Abstraction, and of Specialism., 

" The greater part of visible humanity, that is, the 
weaker part, inhabits the sphere of Instinctivity. At 
Abstraction Society begins. Though Abstraction, as 
compared with Instinct, is an almost divine power, it 
is infinitely feeble beside the endowment of Special- 
ism which alone can explain God. . . . Specialism 
consists in seeing the things of the material world as 
well as those of the spiritual world in their original 
and consequential ramifications. . . . Specialism 
carries with it intuition. Intuition is a faculty of the 
inner man of whom Specialism is an attribute.^' 

" The Specialist is necessarily the loftiest expres- 
sion of Man — ^the link which connects the visible to 



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the superior worlds. He acts, he sees, he feels 
through his inner being. The Abstractive thinks. 
The Instinctive simply acts.*' 

^^ Hence three degrees for man. As an Instinctive 
he is below the level; as an Abstractive he attains to 
it; as a Specialist he rises above it. Specialism opens 
to man his true career; the infinite dawns upon him; 
he catches a glimpse of his destiny.*' 

" There exist three worlds — ^the Natural World, the 
Spiritual World, and the Divine World. Humanity 
moves hither and thither in the Natural World, which 
is fixed neither in its essence nor its properties. The 
Spiritual World is fixed in its essence and variable in 
its properties. The Divine World is fixed in its prop- 
erties and in its essence.*' 

" Consequently there is a material worship, a spir- 
itual worship, and a divine worship; which three are 
manifested by Action, Word, and Prayer, or Deed, 
Understanding, Love. The Instinctive desires deeds; 
the Abstractive turns to ideas; the Specialist sees the 
end; he aspires to God, whom he inwardly perceives 
or contemplates.** 

" Therefore, perhaps one day there shall be a new 
gospel, which will read, ' And the flesh shall be made 
the Word; it shall become the utterance of God.*" 

This classification of humanity and its states or 
worlds is a summing up which reveals Balzac*s won- 
derful insight and commands more and more respect 
and admiration as its application and meaning is un- 



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covered to us, as they cannot fail to be to the student 
of the Science of Being. 

He sees that the natural world is fixed neither in its 
essence nor properties, because it is only objective 
phenomena, varying according to the subjective state 
which they express. In itself only an aggregation of 
lifeless, inert shapes, they are moved upon by the 
nature they veil, and which, through its universality, 
touches them at all points, so that not a particle of 
what our sense-perception calls matter is without its 
centre of force. 

To him the Spiritual World is fixed in its essence 
because that essence is the eternal real that changes 
not — ^the true ego — ^the image of God. It is variable 
in its properties because these are the soul or self of 
the ego that must change in quality, rising from least 
to highest. The highest soxd is the fixed or eter- 
nal property which, with the fixed or eternal essence, 
gives the Divine World — ^the perfect conscious unity 
of the ego and the soul. At the beginning of man^s 
career this unity is potential. The destiny his origin 
involves, that he must inevitably fulfil, is that at- 
tainment of the consciousness of this unity which 
makes it the living, real, consciously present, or act- 
ualized, instead of potential, fact. 

And Balzac's prophesied new gospel is a gospel 
preached to-day — ^the "good tidings of great joy 
which shall be for all people '*; for it is not only the 
recognition of this eternal necessity of man's nature. 



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but of the means — ^the present practical means — ^by 
which this necessity may now be met and compara- 
tively realized. 

The visible flesh shall be understood in its true re- 
lation to the soul and the ego. Body shall become . 
the expression of the Word — ^the divine Thought 
which is the " utterance of God.** It is the comple- 
tion of the circle, the ultimate of evolution, the re- 
turning to the divine and eternal source of that which 
primarily came forth from it. 

Two more quotations from these utterances of 
Louis* and we must leave them: 

" Unity has been the point of departure for every- 
thing which has been produced; thence have resulted 
composites, but the end must be identical with the 
beginning. Hence the spiritual formula: Composite 
imity; variable imity; fixed imity.** 

" The Universe is, then, variety in imity. Motion 
is the means, Number is the result. The end is the 
return of all things to Unity, which is God.** 

We may see the eternal ego as composite unity, 
and the soul as variable unity. The soul has first a 
natural, then a spiritual, and lastly a divine quality. 
These three constitute one soul, and yet a soul to be 
lost and a soul to be saved. The natural cannot as- 
similate with the divine. The spiritual is the medi- 
ator between the two. It puts oflE the natural and 
puts on the divine, bringing from the variable the 
fixed unity. 



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The fixed unity between the divine soul and the 
changeless ego, is that conscious oneness with the In- 
finite I Am which knows no end. It is the celestial 
sphere, God^s dweUing-place, the source of the dy- 
namic Energy which completes its circuit, unstayed 
by mankind^s puny efforts to oppose its own ignorant 
will to Infinite Motion. 

Seeing the threefold development of the threefold 
being, Man, we do not experience the shock and sad- 
ness felt by the reader unable to follow this clue, as 
we contemplate the picture of that soul-marriage il- 
lumining the shadows of the darkened room. There 
the Madonna-love accompanies the nothingness of 
sense-existence — ^nothing through contemplation of 
the all-ness of the higher soul. 

In " The Magic Skin ^^ the higher real was mastered 
by sense-existence, and its accompanying sensual love. 
/ The Madonna-love is the motherhood of wifehood. 
' It is faithful to complete self-sacrifice, not through a 
blind, merely sentimental, trust, but through an un- 
derstanding faith, confidence, and reverence. And 
from the union of this quality of love with the illu- 
minated understanding as represented by Louis, is 
bom the higher soul that stands at the threshold of 
divinity. 

Balzac^s metaphysics, which at this point he has 
illustrated by these touching figures, cease to be puz- 
zling to us. 

In " The Magic Skin ^' we have the Instinctive, the 



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material worship, the Action, the Natural worid. In 
** Louis Lambert '* we have the Abstractive, the spir- 
itual worship, the Word or understanding, the Spirit- 
ual World. Li " Seraphita '* we are to find the Spe- 
cialist, the divine worship, the Love or Prayer, and 
the Divine World. 



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SERAPHITA, 



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\ 



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SERAPHITA. 

In this laat^ and glorious^ number of the triads we. 
reach the sublime height toward which Balzac with 
masterly skill has been leading ns. The third world 
stands before us veiled in the solemn majesty of the 
infinite. The Action of the Natural, becoming the 
Word of the Spiritual, has become the Prayer of the 
Divine — ^that all-absorbing, all-consuming desire of 
the soul God-ward which, as wings, lifts it to the 
Infinite. 

The succession of types afforded in these books 
find their ultimate in "Seraphita*' — Seraphitus. The 
threefold soid developing from the threefold genus, 
Man, reaches its highest stage in this androgynous 
being. The third line of the second triangle is com- 
pleted. The meaning of " Solomon's Seal *' engraved 
upon ** The Magic Skin '* is revealed. 

While our interest is held unflaggingly as we fol- 
low the incident and philosophy of these books, while 
our intellectual admiration for their author increases 
continually, something more, something indefinable 
at first, impresses itself upon us, till, at last, like the 
peal of a mellow, deep-toned bell which we have in- 
distinctly heard from afar, there bursts upon us the 
call of the ages — " Man, know thyself 

77 



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Balzac has added one more to the opportunities for 
self-knowledge — ^that work for humanity than which 
there is none greater, nor one less sure of recognition 
and appreciation in the day of the worker. Had his 
contemporaneous fame rested upon these books alone, 
his years of struggle with poverty and adversity would 
not have been crowned with the respite and reward of 
his later years. 

To trace the three sides of the second triangle is to 
have the nature of Seraphita illumined by that 
light which reveals its quality and characteristics. 
Holding the view that the threefold being, Man, il- 
lustrated by the first triangle, is, necessarily, a two in 
one, as the genus from which the soul or species de- 
velops, the ultimate of this development, or the high- 
est species, must be a two in one — ^that being which 
is neither a man nor a woman because it is both. 

With Eaphael de Valentine we have the two 
halves of the one being separated from each other, 
the man desiring the woman according to the instinct 
of his animal soul, a desire that costs him his life. 
The attraction of the two halves for unity wears that 
coloring for the man, but has the higher aspect for 
the woman as she is represented by Pauline. 

This higher quality of attraction drawing the two 
halves together on a higher plane than that of the 
senses, bringing a soid-marriage impossible on the 
lesser and lower, is portrayed by Louis Lambert and 
Mademoiselle de Villenoix. 



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The perfection of this Unity, the consciousness of 
that perfect oneness which forbids the least sense of 
separateness^ gives us Seraphita, the woman-half of 
the soul, and Seraphitus, the man-half of the soid, to^ 
gether as one being. The long pilgrimage through 
which each has been seeking the other is finished, and 
only ascension remains. 

The gradations of love, the natural, the spiritual, 
and the divine; the transitions or growth from the 
least to the highest necessitated by the very nature 
of Man, hold us with their mystic spell; and we 
can understand, in a degree, Seraphita^s imperious- 
ness ui^der Wilfrid^s solicitations and Minna^s con- 
stancy. 

Some time, within ourselves, the violent love that 
flames with a devouring fury, and therefore is capable 
of becoming nothing but cold ashes, must yield to 
a higher. The love of the senses and of natural in- 
stinct is transmuted in the crucible of human suffer- 
ing into love of and for the soul. Detached from 
the purely physical, it yields to the supremacy of the 
spiritual, preparing the way for the divine. 

Throughout the soul's travail and ascension, love 
rules all things, and according to its quality. What 
we are at any given stage is determined by what and 
how we love. How we appear to others, is determined 
by what and how they love. 

May not the locality in which Seraphita is bom 
illustrate this eternal fact? Far up on the northern 




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coast of Norway, far away from the sensuous warmth 
and luxuriance of the tropics, is she placed by Balzac 
in that magnificent description of this region with 
which the story begins. " Here/^ he says, ^^ we meet 
the majesty of Cold, seated eternally at the pole in 
that regal silence which is the attribute of all abso- 
lute monarchy/' Every extreme principle carries with 
it an appearance of negation, or lack of love; for 
does not the one who loves with the senses say to the 
one who, foreseeing the divine, loves with the soul, 
" You love me no longer, your love is dead? '^ 

When sensuous love does not meet with the re- 
sponse that accords with its demands, it can see no 
love. It has eyes only for its kind, which it rule& 
more or less savagely, slaying remorselessly, because 
ignorantly, the tender offspring that would lead it 
from its self-imposed bondage. It fights and wars 
tempestuously. Noise is its normal expression, pro- 
testation and solicitation its bulwarks of defence. In- 
capable of understanding the patient silence of the 
soul-love, it sees death where are the vigorous shoots 
of lasting life; and it mourns with the abandon of 
its kind till a new like attraction draws it to itself. 

But the soul-love, noiseless and steadfast under all 
the tumult of the senses, grows from shoot to stem, 
branch, and bud, self-contained and self-controlled, 
bringing the perfect blossom of self-less love which 
can claim kinship with the divine. 

Sensuous love is the despot of the valley where 



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dwells the shadow of death; but the divine love is 
the absolute monarch who reigns in eternal calm, 
where are mountain heights scaled only by the know- 
ing and all-daring soul. 

How natural it seems to connect mountains with 
aspiration, with the effort to attain the ideal! 
Throughout th-e Bible they are used in this connec- 
tion; and we do not forget the part that book plays 
in influencing the life of Louis Lambert. The way 
up is the only way out for the soul that must fulfil its 
destiny. " He went up into a mountain ^^ is a com- 
mon phrase in the book, and symbolical of the soul's 
attempt to reach, first, a higher perception, then a 
higher realization or consciousness than the present 
that includes suffering and disappointment. The il- 
lustration is maintained in both the Old and New 
Testaments, as a line stretching from peak to peak 
and touching many another between them — ^from 
Mount Ararat to Mount Calvary. 

We are introduced to Seraphita when she, as Sera- 
phitus, with her companion Minna, on their ice-shoes, 
rises from ledge to ledge toward the summit " of the 
Falberg.'' 

" Keep your eyes on me,'' he says to her; " do not 
look below you." 

" Why not? " she asks. 

" You wish to know why? Then look! " 

*^The awful sensation of abysses" seizes Minna. 
She feels herself drawn to the below by a mysterious 



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magnetic power. Yielding to it as one too strong to 
be resisted, even while declaring she loves none but 
Seraphitus, she is saved by him from falling into 
the depths. He breathes upon her and her trial is 
over. 

"Who art thou?^^ she asks. "Ah, thou art my 
life.^^ 

Though the soul must, some time, choose only the 
divine, it must also know why it so chooses. It must 
look upon its own lower nature, lesser possibilities 
and their consequences, knowing their lessness even 
while they draw it toward their level; a fall from 
which it is saved — even with this knowledge — only 
by the strength of this higher nature which it has 
chosen to follow and unto which it cleaves as friend 
and savior. Truly, the breath of life for the soul 
comes from the divine, that sustains and saves it in 
its journey up to the source from whence it came. 

But this being, who is a man to his clinging com- 
panion, goes higher yet, and at the very edge of a 
narrow platform looks fearlessly below, defying, 
through consciousness of power, " its dazzling invita- 
tion " — " an abyss facing an abyss.^^ " We are bom 
to stretch upward to the skies,^^ he says. So the soul 
that knows itself looks back fearlessly upon the way 
by which it has ascended, and looks upward confident- 
ly into the infinite way that is yet above it. 

'They mount higher after a short rest, and at a 
point where vegetation ceases they find a marvellous 



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flower; from thick green leaves, pure white stars, 
edged with a line of gold, and with crimson anthers, 
but no pistils, a flower that " emits a fragrance as of 
mingled roses and orange-blossoms,^' and which Sera- 
phitus contemplates " as though it uttered plaintive 
thoughts which he alone could understand/' 

In this flower we have one of the author's most 
delicately suggestive illustrations of the nature of 
Seraphita-Seraphitus. 

If we may view yellow or gold as the color of wis- 
; dom — ^that highest knowledge attained in its fulness 
only by the perfected soul — ^and red as the color of the 
sensuous nature — ^the Adam-man — this view, taken 
in connection with the fact that the anther as the 
pollen-bearing part pertains to the male nature of the 
flower, and the pistil as the seed-bearing organ to the 
female nature, gives a striking significance to the il- 
lustration. 

The soul, or species involved in the genus Man, 
must develop to its full flower through all the inter- 
vening stages from potentiality to actuality. Pri- 
marily a two in one, appearing separately in this ev- 
olution as Eve taken from Adam, who must find and 
blend with him as he with her, it reaches its culmi- 
nation as the woman-man and the man-woman from 
whom is to come no offspring or successor, for it is 
the w;hole. 

The sensuous nature, the red Adam, must be lifted 
up and found in this perfected, divine soul, trans- 



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mnted, redeemed, purified by Wisdom and Love; not 
a loss of masculine strength, but a strengthened 
strength which serves the regenerated Eve, holding 
itself instead of her in subjection to their mutual di- 
vinity. 

This culmination is the divine marriage — the mar- 
riage of the Soul's immaculate virginity with the puri- 
fied Adam, whose type is Seraphita-Seraphitus, that 
is illustrated by this matchless white flower, within 
which are red and gold, emitting an ethereal and fugi- 
tive perfume as of roses and orange-blossoms, and 
found above the line where vegetation, or reproduc- 
tion, ceases. 

White is wholeness. It contains all colors, none of 
/ which is it, each of which is less than it, all of which 
are necessary to its completeness. The God-man of 
( our own New Testam"ent, that dual soul, male without 
and female within, is clad in raiment white as the 
light, a seamless vesture; though his immediate pre- 
decessor in Genesis wears a " coat of many colors.'* 
The Christ is androgynous, appearing to sense-per- 
ception as a man, and revealed in the female or divine 
virgin aspect only to the spiritualized vision that can 
see the Son of God. 

Can we not trace Balzac's metaphysics in this scene 
upon the mountain? — ^the cold whiteness that to the 
clinging human nature seems lack of feeling, of love? 

" You are so hopelessly perfect in all things," says 
Minna. 



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"From which you conclude I am unfeeling/^ an- 
swers Seraphitus, who,sthrough excess of feeling, is 
tran8figui»ed; for on this mountain he shines with a 
radiance that illumines his face and person — ^an in- 
ward radiance shining through him like light through 
an alabaster vase. ., 

Prom whence this light, this radiance? It is the I 
divinely illuminated soul. The human soul pays the ( 
price of initiation into the divine mysteries — cm- / 
cifixion. It lays down its life to find the lasting \ 
life. ^ 

Hear Seraphitus as he says: "With us, and us 
alone, begins the knowledge of things. We become 
great through intellect and feeling. . . . Nothing 
is stable here. . . . Our fleeting happiness is 
the forerunning proof of another and perfect happi- 
ness. . . . Men ever mislead themselves in sci- 
ence by not perceiving that all things on this globe 
are related and co-ordinated to the general evolution, 
to a constant movement and production which bring 
them, necessarily, both advancement and end. Man 
himself is not a finished creation.** 

These words remind us that Man is created the 
image of God, but he is made, or finished, within that 
image. Within Man's own nature is all that is requi- 
j site for its unfolding, i Man will never be finished, 
completely made, till he stands forth as the likeness 
^^^ of God. This is the aim and object of evolution which 
must be discerned if we would find the "missing 



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link^^; and when discerned, the continuity of or- 
ganic structure so far traced but points with unerring 
finger to that continuity of soul behind it that com- 
pels the putting forth of still higher species till that 
Christ which is God-likeness is reached. But the 
"missing link*' must be sought and found at that 
point in this orderly and unbroken continuity where 
structure crosses the line of visibility; where from 
what is called organic it becomes psychic, a soul- 
structure no less orderly, or according to Nature's 
fundamentals, than those that are visible to the sense 
that analyses, weighs, and measures them. All pre- 
ceding species prepare the way for the one able to 
build character; and this one prepares the way of 
the divine. 

Seraphitus continues: "We are the noblest of 
God's great works. Has he not given us the faculty 
of reflecting on Nature; of gathering it within us ly 
thought?''* 

Nature is within Man, not extraneous to him; what 
we see as objective is included within consciousness; 
realization of our own lasting being means gathering 
all nature within us by thought till in us it is incar- 
nated. Soul-growth is but the orderly withdrawing 
and gathering up in the within of what has been pro- 
jected and experienced as the without; that embody- 
ing of experience which, through a process of elimi- 
nation, is the " survival of the fittest." 
* The italics are the anther's. 



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Far up on this mountain, in the stillness of ^^ the 
absolute monarchy of Cold/^ Seraphitus says to his 
companion, " Standing here ... do you not feel 
within you something deeper far than mind, grander 
than enthusiasm, of greater energy than will? Are 
you not conscious of emotions whose interpretation 
is no longer in us? Do you not feel your pinions? 
Let us pray.^^ 

Truly, when growing realization of the nature of 
our own being has brought us nearer and nearer to 
its source — ^brought us away from externals that are 
indrawn as we take our upward flight, the time comes 
when our wings, governed by the impulse which can- 
not cease, once it is established, seek to bear us to the 
very presence of the omnipotent I Am; that pres- 
ence which is reached only through the absolute mon- 
archy of the higher love. 

How wonderfully has Balzac, in this opening scene 
of the book, set before us the aspiration which cannot 
be content with aught less than the highest; the 
momentum of the soul which impels it onward; the 
gateway which lies beyond those to which intellect 
holds the key; the purity of desire that is the prayer 
of the soul nearly ready to be crowned with the 
"weight of glory ^* that is its divine heritage 1 
Throughout this book we see the inability of lesser 
things — ^less than the Divine Ideal, to hold the soul 
back from its higher home. Whatever the aspect they 
present, they have no power to charm. To finish the 



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work it is given to do is the only desire, the only en- 
deavor. 

As Seraphitus and Minna stand together on the 
mountain looking down upon the village far below, 
she weeps, and wonders that he does not weep with 
her. 

" Why should I weep? ^^ says he. " I see no longer 
human wretchedness. Here, Good appears in all its 
majesty. There, beneath us, I hear the supplications 
and the wailings of the harp of sorrows which vibrates 
in the hands of captive souls. Here, I listen to the 
choir of harps harmonious.^^ 

Is not this the same truth emphasized in our day — 
; Evil exists only for those who see and feel it? The 
^ reality of evil is our own inability to see the Good. 
If we get above the plane of suflEering and sorrow by 
freeing our own captive soul from its bondage and 
helping it to climb the mountain of right recognition, 
good will appear in all its majesty — ^we, too, shall hear, 
in place of wailings, ^^ the choir of harps harmonious.*' 

Miseries are great or small in proportion to our dis- 
tance from them; and the world is full of evil, or is 
a means of working out the eternal good which is 
everywhere present and waiting for manifestation, ac- 
cording as we are of the world, or are in it, without 
being of it. Incapable, while suflEering, of catching 
the harmony, hearing only the discord, we strive im- 
potently against the great flood of evil. Not till a 
finer and more subtle capacity to see and hear is bom 



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of Buflfering, does good begin to ^^ appear in all its 
majesty ^'; and we bow in adoration where formerly 
we have said, " Let ns curse God and die/^ 

The diflBculty which the average reader encounters 
in reading this book is removed for the one who can 
understand its mysticism. To him Wilfrid and Min- 
na are the male and female, the rational and emo- 
tional natures of the soul. The one is the comple- 
ment of the other, is incomplete without the other. 

Minna sees in the dual being only her desired and 
necessary counterpart, Seraphitus, not the wholeness. 
Equally is this the case with Wilfrid, who sees only 
the woman — ^the Seraphita. This dual being stands 
to both as their own higher ideal, as that which each 
lacks for completeness. Both long for it, each accord- 
ing to the nature. 

Minna sees the man, commanding, powerful, pro- 
tecting. He guides her unerringly and supports her 
unfalteringly over all the dangers of the mountain as- 
cent and descent. She feels the male force operating 
through the sublimated intellect. She is all feeling, 
is passive, and is irresistibly drawn to the necessary 
imion with the male, positive, active element. 

Wilfrid is the positive, rational nature, and he sees 
the loving woman in Seraphita and desires her. He 
needs to feel rather than to reason. He is imperious 
in his demands and he has yet to learn the meekness 
of the spirit. 

What Minna and Wilfrid each lack in themselves is 



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what they find in Seraphita, who instructs them both; 
and who is never more kind than when she seems the 
most cruel. They lack understanding; for the under- 
standing of either half of the nature alone is not suf- 
ficient; each is crippled without the other. 

" Seraphita-Seraphitus/* says Balzac, " was gifted 
with the awful faculty of comprehension.*' Because 
of their lack of comprehension they suflEer when their 
desires are not immediately gratified; but Seraphita 
knows that " sorrow is a lamp that illumines life.*' 

Understanding of causes and their relation to ef- 
fects is necessary for redemption from suffering; but 
the rational understanding alone, however full and 
complete as such, is not sufficient. Neither is that 
emotion, pure and simple, which has no lasting f oun- 
dation of principle to rest upon, enough. The fac- 
ulty of comprehension, " awful ** in its majestic com- 
pleteness rather than limited through its one-sided- 
ness, comes only from the united understanding — 
the union of reason and feeling which saves feeling 
from a false and fatal sentiment, and reason from an 
equally false and fatal frost. 

Balzac has also pointed out by means of these char- 
acters a great truth — ^that if we hold a high ideal, as 
eventually we must, we can reach it only by taking 
the intervening steps. 

Nature knows no gaps or jumps. She is orderly,' 
everything is in its place. Confusion and missing 
links belong to our own near-sightedness. . We are 



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blind to the many deKcate connections which preserve 
system and harmony; and in our fancied wisdom im- 
agine that we are mastering her secrets, bringing or- 
der out of what to us seems chaos. She smiles se- 
renely at our blindness, waiting for its consequences 
to teach us our needs. When our wisdom has become 
ignorance and our ignorance true wisdom, she com- 
pensates us for our toil and suffering, becoming the 
companion and friend of the soid-pilgrim, as she has 
been the Sphinx and scourge of the intellectual 
despot. 

Minna and Wilfrid both desire Seraphita; but be- 
fore they can possess her they must desire and possess 
each other. Two in one is the divine likeness. The 
inability of the rational nature, with its attendant 
expectations, to realize the perception and power 
which come from the union of the two, is strongly 
revealed in Wilfrid^s conversation with Seraphita. 
She speaks for him an unknown tongue, even as she 
does at first for Minna. Her " awf id faculty of com- 
prehension ^^ forms the answers which do not accord 
with their limited perceptions. This rouses sorrow in 
Minna and anger in Wilfrid, again a striking illustra- 
tion of their natures. So, when the divine, penetrat- 
ing Jhrough the intervening strata, seeks to instruct 
us, we at first reject and turn from the heavenly in- 
tent, only to seek it later with tears and beseeching. 

" It wounds me,** says Wilfrid, to Seraphita, " to 
hear you apply the dreadful knowledge with which 



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you strip from all things human the properties that 
time and space and form have given them, and con- 
sider them mathematically in the abstract/* 

Here the Wilfrid within ourselves comforts us. 
Does it not wound us when a discovered truth which 
-affords, perhaps, intellectual delight is applied to our 
cherished wishes, possessions, and intent? Applica- 
tion brings the discovery home to ourselves with a 
crushing force that makes us seek to get away from 
it, truth for its own sake, whatever may result, not 
being yet our dominating desire. To strip from all 
things human the properties that our puny loves and 
wealmesses have given them is something so appalling 
to us! We cannot bear their nakedness without the 
help of that " awful faculty of comprehension **; and 
we prefer to feel, rather than to comprehend, even 
though our feeling make a fools* paradise which must 
inevitably some time end. 

The road to divinity is strewn with the wreckage 
of false sentiment and temporal blindness; and it is 
trodden successfully only by the feet of him who mas- 
ters as he goes. Self-mastery is the price to be paid 
at every step of the way that leads to God. " Thou 
shalt have no other gods before me.** 

Wilf rid*s only demand — one impossible to be met — 
is, " Love me as I love you.** Is not this the common 
demand made in the name of love? '^Love me as 
I love you! ** Does not one who loves feel defrauded 
if his love is not returned in kind? Will he not re- 



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sent bitterly, passionately, a kind of love which he 
does not understand, if offered in return for his own? 
Is not this unintentionally selfish element in our loves 
the cause of many of our miseries? Do we not mourn 
a lost love when the experience is but a purification 
of love? Do we not demand what generations of 
custom have permitted and declare absence of love 
when the demand is not met with compliance? and 
even though a truer and nobler love prompts the re- 
fusal? 

Seraphita, incapable of this kind of love, or the de- 
sire for it, strips it of the properties given by cijistom 
and limited perception, and considers it as it is in 
itself; a cold-blooded proceeding to Wilfrid, who can- 
not yet comprehend her. 

" I will let the subject drop, Wilfrid,** answers Ser- 
aphita. " Tell me what you think of this bearskin 
rug which my poor David has spread out.** 

Why not? Surely it is vain to teach those to fly 
who do not yet know they have wings. It is wiser 
to descend to their plane and wait patiently for the 
time when they shall find them. 

The travail through which the rational-human soul 
passes, before it is capable of desiring the ideal af- 
forded by Seraphita, is suggested by her words to 
him. 

*^ I torment you, Wilfrid. You, who came to these 
northern lands for rest; you, worn out by the impet- 
uous struggle of genius unrecognized; you, weary 



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94 

with the patient toils of science; you, who well-nigh 
dyed your hands in crime and wore the fetters of 
human justice/' 

She breathed softly on his forehead and he fell 
asleep at her feet. " Eest/^ she said, " I cannot show 
myself such as I am to thee who art strong/' 

The very strength of the purely rational nature 
prevents its grasp of what it is nevertheless compelled 
to seek — the higher spiritual ideal. It must rest from 
its labors, become as a little child, to enter into the 
higher reality. 

Seraphita continues to talk to him as he lies asleep, 
for then, as she says, the hour is come when the soul 
awakes into freedom. 

How beautifully does Balzac teach, here, the need 
and possibility of revelation. Only when the clamor- 
ing reason is stilled can the highest of all truth enter 
the soul. Asleep to the outward, awake to the inward, 
it draws from that which its reason cannot compre- 
hend. And the higher woman is the revelatoi:. For 
the intuitive nature performs its office faithfully, 
when she, as the eternal feminine, ever virgin, is per- 
mitted to act according to her nature. She can never 
be coerced by the demands of her masculine mate, 
though through long years she may be held in sub- 
jection. 

As Wilfrid lies asleep at Seraphita's feet he is gain- 
ing glimpses of what his waking vision cannot show 
him. " Now,'' she says, " I may tell thee how I love 



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95 

thee. Dost thou not see the nature of my love, a love 
without self-interest? ^^ 

Such a love cannot be comprehended where there 
is selfish desire; for it is the love that is God. It is 
above and beyond the power of the finite intellect, 
and can be known only as it is felt. Hence, the high- 
est religion, which is the recognition and adoration 
of the true Christ, is not an educated sentiment, but 
that real feeling whose foundations lie deep in the 
eternal and which is manifested in a life of deeds 
without doctrine. 

First, the love which is all sense; then the mixture 
of sense and soul; then the love that is all soul, 
the virgin motherhood of the world that begets 
and brings forth the offspring of infinite, exhaustless 
Love. 

" For the last few days,'' says Balzac, " whenever 
Wilfrid entered Seraphita's presence his body seemed 
to fall away from him into nothingness.'' Is it not 
true that body is naught but a means to an end and 
soul is all; that the love which concerns the body 
is temporal, while the love which broods protectingly 
over the soul is eternal? 

The suggestiveness of Seraphita as a type appears 
also in her old servant, David, serving-man instead 
of maid. The ^^ divine womanly" leads, the man 
waits upon her, watching and guarding her so far as 
he is able; but she is ever in advance of him, and he 
cannot enter into and share all her experiences. He 



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can only serve her, can grow higher only by serving 
while he adores her. 

Balzac's familiarity with the teachings of Sweden- 
borg and their influence upon him are plainly seen 
in this book. The revelation made to Wilfrid by 
Minna's father, Monsieur Becker, in answer to the 
young man's questions regarding Seraphita's parent- 
age, seems to be an approximate summary of Swed- 
enborg's philosophy. 

Her parentage appears to the uninitiated reader to 
partake of the mysterious and miraculous. Her father 
is Swedenborg's cousin, and her mother, as fit mate 
for her father, was found for him by Swedenborg in 
a vision. Their wedded life was a perfect union — 
" the harmony of two souls indissolubly united," says 
Balzac. When the wife found herself with child, both 
prepared to bid the earth farewell. They were to be 
transformed when the child had grown old enough 
and strong enough to exist alone. 

^ This occurred when Seraphita was nine years old 
and she, wonderful and incomprehensible from baby- 
hood, manifested no sorrow or sense of loss. " They 
live in me," she said; and her words show that she 
illustrates the perfect fruit of a perfect mating — ^the 
two in one which is of one in two. 

She lives alone, a young maiden, with only old Da- 
vid, her servant, seen rarely except on Christmas day 
in church, the only time in the year she goes there, 
and where she is separated from the other worship- 

X. 



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97 

pers by a visible space. If that space does not exist 
between herself and them she suffers. 

Here we see the apartness of the divine soul from 
the lesser soul, though it dwells for a time on the lower 
plane, that it may be manifested in the flesh. Dis- 
tinct as the likeness of God, the God-man, it is not 
separate from the purely human man, but is in that 
unity that is necessitated by the relation of number 
and figure. Suffering belongs to the human soul; 
victory over suffering, to the divine. 

Wilfrid suffers from being near her, for the fric- 
tion between the divine and the rational-human 
wounds the lesser. 

" But,^* says Balzac, " many women hear the tones 
of a mighty organ when Seraphita enters the church.^^ 

It is to the intuitive woman-soul, the female, that ' 
the Annunciation is made to which the rational-hu- ^ 
man is deaf, dumb, and blind, till it is raised through '.. 
suffering — ^which all its intellectual power cannot pre- ; 
vent — to where it ceases to probe and begins to really ; 
feel. The intuitive human catches the harmony of i 
the divine and escapes the friction of the discord be- , 
tween the lesser and the greater. - '* 

Monsieur Becker, both as narrator of Seraphita^s 
history and in his subsequent visits to her in company 
with his daughter and Wilfrid, represents natural 
doubt, literal accuracy, regard for authority^ and 
blindness to the things of the spirit. 

He cannot understand Seraphita-Seraphitus, and 



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therefore thinks those who see in her what he does 
not see^ crazy. Even when she meets and refutes aU 
his doubts and arguments^ handling his own weapons 
with consummate skill — handling them with her 
male nature and force — ^and he is asked " Who taught 
her this?'* he can only take refuge in the agnostic 
" I do not know/' 

The divine is the all-knowing soul, and Seraphita's 
teachings are the revelations from on high, incom- 
prehensible even when given by her male nature 
through her intellect, inconceivable when given 
through her female devotion and adoration. 

The interview between her, Monsieur Becker, Wil- 
frid, and Minna, after her struggle with the — ^to them 
— ^invisible powers, reveals Balzac's insight into that 
science of being, which appears as the philosophy in 
his books. "I wear," says Seraphita, 'Hhe seal of 
Solomon." 

As we follow her magnificent analysis of modem 
science and its conclusions, which lays bare its lim- 
itations and their defects, her sublime conceptions 
which retain their half-truths and relate them to a 
whole, we are compelled to admit that the wisest man 
who ever lived was indeed he who asked, as the great- 
r est boon possible to be bestowed upon him, " Give me, 
Lord, an understanding heart"; and that this 
young girl of seventeen was crowned with the same 
wisdom, nay, was its very embodiment; for her un- 
derstanding was not of the head alone, it was of the 



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/ heart as well, a union necessary for that positive 
knowledge which transcends mere reason. 

As Seraphitus she wields the " axe of doubt ^^ with 
far more accuracy of aim and certainty of result than 
Monsieur Becker himself. Her penetration, her mer- 
ciless logic, strip even more naked for him the agnos- 
ticism he has sought to cover with the life-work of 
the world^s geniuses, with the reflections of his own 
trained mind that has been constantly stimulated — 
pastor though he is — ^by the poverty of his soul. 

But, as Seraphita, she sees and supplies what they 
have never been able to find and apply; what all his 
reflections have never brought within his reach. As 
the man she is the reasoner; as the woman she is the 
diviner. As the union of the two, she is complete in 
knowledge, the possessor of Wisdom, that pearl of 
great price for which Js- given all that a man hath, 
even himself. 

She is the highest visible species of the genus, Man, 
the regenerated Adam and Eve no longer separated, 
but one, foreseen by a David, foreknown by a Solo- 
mon, felt and manifested by a Jesus. She is the in- 
carnated truth; the living Word; the sword of de- 
struction for intellectual error and inefficiency, that 
sj4ys a King Saul; the redeeming and saving spirit 
|or the " offspring of the house of David.^^ 
/ To Monsieur Becker she says: *^ The species which 
/ are beneath you have no conception of the universe, 
j and you have; why should there not be other species 



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100 

above you more intelligent than your own? Man 
ou^ht to be better informed than he is about him- 
self before he spends his strength in measuring God/^ 

Balzae^s insight is nowhere more clearly shown 
than in his use of numbeiP and abstract mathematics, 
and the relation between the curve and the straight 
line. 

"You beHeve/* Seraphita says, "in Number — ^a 
base on which you have built the edifice of sciences 
which you call exact. Without Number what would 
become of mathematics? Well, what mysterious be- 
ing endowed with the facidty of living forever could 
utter, and what language would he compact to word 
the Number that contains the infinite numbers whose 
existence is revealed to you by thought? Ask it of the 
loftiest human genius; he might ponder it for a thou- 
sand years and what woidd be his answer? You know 
neither where Number begins, nor where it pauses, 
nor where it ends. Here you call it Time, there 
you call it Space. Nothing exists e:s[cept by Num- 
ber. . . . The least as well as the greatest crea- 
tions are distinguishable from each other bjr quan- 
tities, qualities, dimensions, forces — all attr£J)utes 
created by Number. The infinitude of Numbei!:^ is 
a fact proved to your soul, but of which no material 
proof can be given. The mathematician himself tells 
you that the infinite of numbers exists, but canndt be 
proved. . . . The existence of Numbers depends 
upon the Unit. . . . God is a glorious Unit. . . . 



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101 

You do not need that I should prove to you that the 
Infinite must everywhere be like unto itself, and that, 
necessarily, it is One. God alone is Infinite, for surely 
there cannot be two Infinites or Ones. . . . The 
man who can conceive the Infinite by his intelligence, 
cannot deal with it in its entirety; if he coidd he 
would be God. Your Nimieration, applying to things 
finite and not to the Infinite, is therefore true in re- 
lation to the things you are able to perceive, and 
false in relation to the whole which you are unable 
to perceive.^* 

Invaluable suggestions are offered to the student in 
the pages from which these extracts are takfen with- 
out, it is hoped, affecting their context. ^ 

The Science of Being, as abstract truth, is founded 
upon the Unit — ^posits God as the only Unit, hence 
whole, changeless, indivisible; that uncreated First 
Cause from which all things come and to which they 
all go, which is Infinity. 

Nimiber, as the expression of the Unit, involves 
necessarily infinite variety. Figure as the represent- 
ative of Number, as necessarily is related to this 
variety. The variety of natures within the one nat- 
ure, or the numbers within Number, will have each 
its appropriate figure, this being the relation between 
visible and invisible. 

Hence the true or accurate numeration of the vis- 
ible is impossible except through perception of its 
relation to the invisible. Here modem science halts. 



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102 

By its own methods it is prevented from crossing this 
boundary line. The Science of Being crosses it suc- 
cessfully and produces the accurate numeration — ^that 
which is not only true in relation to the things seen, 
but demonstrably true also in relation to that whole 
which is not seen. 

One of the greatest revelations, one even sublime, 
afforded by Balzac^s theory of the straight line and 
the curve, is a fundamental truth to the appreciative 
student of this science. 

^^Your geometry,'* he says, "establishes that a 
straight line is the shortest way from one point to 
another, but your astronomy proves that God has pro- 
ceeded by curves.'* 

"Here, then, we find two truths equally preyed 
by the same science — one by the testimony of your 
senses, reinforced by the telescope, the other by the 
testimony of your mind; and yet the one contradicts 
the other. . . . Who shall decide 'between recti- 
linear and curvilinear geometry — ^between the the- 
ory of the straight line and that of the curve? . . . 
The bullet which man aims direct proceeds by a curve, 
and when you wish to strike a certain point in space, 
you impel your bombshell along its cruel parabola. 
None of your men of science have drawn from this 
fact the simple deductfon that the curve is the law 
of the material worlds and the straight line that of 
the Spiritual worlds; one is the theory of finite crea- 
tions, the other the theory of the infinite. Man, who 



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103 

alone in this world has a knowledge of the Infinite, 
can alone know the straight line; he alone has a sense 
of verticality placed in a special organ. A fondness 
for the creations of the curve would seem to be, in 
certain men, an indication of the impurity of their 
nature, still conjoined to the material substances 
which engender us; and the love of great souls for 
the straight line seems to show in them an intuition 
x)f heaven. Between these two lines there is a gulf 
fixed like that between the finite and the infinite, be- 
tween matter and spirit, between man and the idea, 
between motion and the object moved, between the 
creature and God. Ask Love, the divine, to grant you 
his wings and you can cross that gulf. Beyond it be- 
gins the revelation of the word." 

After having reviewed the various esoteric and 
metaphysical doctrines of the nature and office of the 
circle, which make it the superior symbol, Mr. Par- 
sons, in his introduction to " Seraphita," asks, in re- 
sponse to her statement that it is the inferior, " How 
shall this paradox be explained? " going on to affirm 
that " though the line may be regarded mathemati- 
cally as the sign of infinite extension, it surely has 
little connection with Idealism, with Poetry, with 
Imagination, or Beauty, or Eeligion; " and he forms 
the conclusion that because ^^ it has with Duty clear 
and close affiliations," here must be the explanation 
of the paradox; for " Duty loVd of Love " is, he say6, 
'^the highest test of human aspiration, the surest 
measure of human progress." 



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104 

This paradox, however, which, as said before, oflEers 
one of the grandest reyelations afforded by Balzac's 
philosophy to those who have eyes to see, has that 
more complete explanation which shows the straight 
line to have close connection "with Idealism, with 
Poetry, with Imagination, and Beauty, and Eelig- 
ion ''; with all that lifts the human mind and heart 
firom the circuitous route of prolonged experience as 
a means of knowledge, to the straight line of direct 
perception and intercourse possible to the individual- 
ized soul. Here lies the difference between the 
things of matter and the things of the spirit; the 
operations of the limited intellect that must follow 
the curve, and the illuminated understanding that 
can follow the straight line; the man of science whose 
results and rewards must accord with the limited fac- 
ulties through which he finds them, and the true, 
rather than merely visionary, idealist who, following 
the straight line, gains all and more than the other 
and in advance of him; between, broadly. Science and 
Religion, between demonstrated and comparative, and 
that superlative truth which is the highest degree of 
the primal positive. Here is no paradox; all is di- 
vinely natural to the one who has found " the way.'* 

It is the difference between that sIqw plodding dis- 
covery of abstract truth that attends natural human 
experience, and that divination that weds Religion to 
Science; that flies in the open firmament of the 
heaven straight to the heart and core, the essence 



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105 

of all things; that is the power of individuality as 
above the power of human authority; the power that 
has given to the world those great souls that have 
helped to lift it higher as it moved in the circle of 
intellectual limitation. It is the power that makes 
seers, prophets, geniuses, Saviors; the power that re- 
deems from intellectual bondage and from fear; that 
makes of the unknowable, the known. 

Though the head follow the curve, the heart, fol- 
lowing the straight line, draws the soul straight to 
that fountain-head whence issues the breath of life. 
Breathing this breath, the soul, though in the world, 
knows itself as not of the world, but of the Absolute. 
Following the curve to find God, on this straight line 
the soul knows God. The straight line of individual 
relation to God must some time supersede for us that 
curve of human experience in which we wander blind- 
ly, roaming the while, feeling after deliverance from 
suffering, falling often and stumbling forward again 
as our pain spurs us on. Only as we live on the 
straight line are all the mysteries of the curve revealed 
to us; and we wed the knowledge gained through ex- 
periences to the illumination from the " Over Soul,'* 
making that whole which is true wisdom; and wis- 
dom is always " justified of her children.'^ 

" Man,'^ says Balzac, " is effect and cause. He is 
fed, but he feeds in turn. . . . Your science which 
makes you great in your own eyes is paltry indeed 
beside the light which bathes a seer. . . . The 



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Path to God is in ourselves. The Seer and the Be- 
liever find eyes within their souls more piercing far 
than eyes that probe the things of earth. . . . Your - 
noblest lights are clouds. Above is the sanctuary *) 
whence the true light flows.^^ -^ 

In Seraphita's struggle with the "hosts of dark- 
ness/^ with " Species, Shapes, and devils,'* as David 
declares, is illustrated the same struggle and victory 
that is portrayed as Jesus' temptation in the wilder- 
ness and His crucifixion; it is the final rejection of 
all sense-allurements, the victory over their power to 
lead astray. That this battle must be waged and won 
alone is the absolute necessity for the soul that would 
ascend. David is powerless to help her, though she 
is his only treasure. 

May there not be significance in his description of 
her as she fights it? " For the last five hours she has 
stood erect, her eyes raised to heaven, her arms ex- 
tended; she cries to God.'' 

This battle is fought on the straight line, not on 
the curve. All five senses, which belong to the curve, 
must be absorbed in the one — ^an all-compelling as- 
piration — the single eye, with an utter all-sufficient 
self -surrender, reliance only upon the Mighty One. 

" The light of God is defending her," said David. 

** She is only saying her prayers," says Monsieur 
Becker, as he looks at her through the window. 

Wilfrid is awed by what he vaguely perceives as 
he sees and listens to Seraphita — ^an awe that has 



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107 

disappeared the following day when the strength of 
his rational nature has resumed his activity. Break- 
fasting with Monsieur Becker, ^^ by the time they had 
jswallowed their fifth cup of tea/^ says Balzac, these 
philosophers had come to think that "the celestial 
truths to which they had listened were arguments 
susceptible of examination/^ and " Seraphita a charm- 
ing, seductive, and eloquent girl." 

" Bah," says the worthy pastor, " the final word of 
all these fine enigmas is six feet under ground." / 

Barabbas the robber is indeed released unto us when ^ 
we reject the truth that would save us from his depre- , 
dations. 

Following the thread of continuity, we are prepared 
for the final scene where only Wilfrid and Minna are 
with Seraphita-Seraphitus at his death. The nature 
of this deatK is indicated by the time of the occur- 
rence, the springtime, the bursting forth, from the 
covering which has hidden so long, of the green foli- 
age, the buds and blossoms which smile upon the sun- 
light. It is the resurrection — ^the breaking of the 
divine soul from the trammels in which it has been 
begotten, but which are powerless to hold it longer, 
and its ascension to its eternal abode. 

In the walk which they take together, Seraphita 
bids farewell to earth, even though it was never more 
beautiful than now. The heavenly wings are being 
plumed for fiight. Standing in " this immensity of 
Nature," where the village was " a lost point in the 



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108 

landscape/' she easts a last look " upon this nature 
in travail/' 

"Farewell, ye mariners, who seek the Orient 
through the thick darkness of your abstractions vast 
as principles! Farewell, ye martyrs of thought, led 
by thought into the presence of the True lightl I 
see the angelic choir, the wafting of perfumes, the 
incense of the heart of those who go their way con- 
\ soling, praying, imparting celestial balm and living 
^'^^ light to sufferings souls! Courage, ye choir of Love! 
ypu to whom the peoples cry, " Comfort us, defend usi 
To you courage! and farewelll Farewell, ye granite 
rocks that shall bloom a flower; farewell, flower that 
becomes a dove; farewell, dove that shall be wom- 
an; farewell, woman who art Suffering, man who art 
Belief! Farewell, you who shall be all love, all 
prayer/' 

What a mighty truth in the words, " Woman who 
art Suffering, man who art Belief I " Is it not by the 
union of Suffering and Belief that the world is filled 
with their progeny — ^all the evils attendant upon civ- 
ilization without spiritualization? Is not suffering 
the woman, or the feeling, and belief the man, or ra- 
tional limitation that keeps feeling in bondage to the 
senses? The soul must indeed say farewell to both, 
for it is destined to an existence they cannot enter. 
They are left below as the soul mounts higher. 

The outward circumstance involving Seraphita's 
death is described by Balzac as " the progress of the 



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109 

spirit piercing the last obstacle between itself and 
the Infinite ^^ that " was called an illness/^ the *^ hour 
of life'' that "went by the name of death/' The 
sense-soul goes down to death following its natural 
gravitation. Only by help of the inner eye which 
pierces the clouds that enshroud mortality can the 
soul lift itself up, dying through ascending beyond 
them. 

And it is only the " He/' the exterior, that disap- 

' pears, because lifted up into the " She," the interior 

; that is eternal. The divine, to the outer sense that 

j can see only externals, following the curve, is neces- 

/ sarily " He "; but to the inner sense that sees the 

/ straight line of descent and ascent, it is "She" — 

i the divine Love. 

j The supremacy of the Divine Will, of this Infinite, 
changeless Love, the utter abnegation of the human 
will that contains the element of selfishness, the " not 
mine but thine " that must obtain before the soul can 
become the seraph, and the higher than our educated 
view of Prayer, are beautifully told in Seraphita- 
Seraphitus' dying words, and in the revelation af- 
forded Wilfrid and Minna by their own seership, or 
temporary lifting up above the things of matter and 
mortality. 

" Prayer," he says, " issuing from so many trials, is 
the consummation of all truths, all powers, all feel- 
ings. Fruit of the laborious, progressive, continued 
development of natural properties and faculties vital- 



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110 

ized anew by the divine breath of the Word, prayer 
has occult activity. . . . We say no prayers- 
prayer forms within us; it is a faculty which acts of 
itself; it has attained a way of action which lifts it 
outside of forms; it links the soul to God. . . • 
When you possess the faculty of praying without 
weariness, with love, with force, with certainty, with 
intelligence, your spiritualized nature will presently 
be invested with power. Like a rushing wind, like a 
thunder-bolt, it cuts its way through all things and 
shows the power of God.'* 

^^ With a prayer. He lifted himself up to die.^' 

" Soul of all things, oh my God, thou whom I love 
for thyself! . . . receive a love which has no limit! 
. . . Take me that I no longer be myself I Am 
I not purified? then cast me back into the furnace. 
. . . Eejected, I will bless thy justice. But if 
excess of love may win in a moment that which hard 
and patient labor cannot attain, then bear me upward 
in thy chariot of fire. ... if thou wilt, reject 
me I Thou art He who can do no evil! '* 

/^The violence of that last prayer had burst her 
bonds.^' 

^^The aspiration of the soul toward heaven was 
so contagious that Wilfrid and Minna, beholding 
those radiant scintillations of Life, perceived not 
Death.^' 

^^ The veil of flesh which until now had hidden that 
glory from their eyes, dissolved imperceptibly away, 
and left them free to behold the Divine substance.** 



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Ill 

At this point in human experience analysis is ex- 
hausted. Working inward and backward through all 
fleshly veils, we come at last to the "Divine sub- 
stance/' fixed, imperishable, eternal, whose light has 
been the illumination of all dark valleys, the strength 
in all hours of weakness, the purpose as well as the 
beginning and end of time and existence. From the 
animal or sensuous quality to the human or intellect- 
ual, and from the intellectual through the spiritual 
to the divine, the soul has journeyed toward that Di- 
vine substance to which it belongs, leaving behind one 
by one the experiences and relationships pertaining 
to each^ till the "last enemy** is overcome by the 
strength of its realized kinship with the Infinite. 
And this is the end and aim of human existence, the 
"return to origin** of the only species capable of 
conscious return; the established " dominion over all ** 
which is potential in every soul clothed with human 
flesh; the destiny awaiting every son of man as he is 
bom into the world. 

Wonderful as is the continuity of meaning in these 
three books, masterly as is the manner in which it is 
wrought out, it is in Seraphita alone that the grander 
chords are struck to which our very inmost vibrates 
in unison. The book is noble in its conception and 
execution, but the last chapter — " The Assumption ** 
— ^is sublime. All the way we have been before the 
gates of heaven, but here we are carried through them 
to the celestial sphere. 



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112 

No one, except he be deaf, dumb, and blind, in the 
prison of the senses, can read it without having his 
own aspiration kindled, his own soul lifted up in 
adoration for the Supreme Essence of all being. 
Tears fill the eyes, but they are not of pain. They 
are the falling .dew of a mighty deathless love, that 
gathers in the soul as a pent-up force that will later 
burst all barriers; that compels us to see, hear, feel, 
think anew; that makes us long to be offered up a 
sacrifice if through us the world may be redeemed. 

Strength and Love, the Wilfrid and Minna in our- 
selves, whose unity, whose co-operation, shall make us 
mediators between the human and the divine. We 
feel willing to forego all that has seemed so indis- 
pensable, so dear, and as we close the book we pray 
our own prayer — "My God, I thank Thee if I may 
be lifted up.'* 



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